On Tuesday twelve members of the Buffalo’s firefighter squad were rewarded $2.7 million for emotional distress after a judge ruled that the city of Buffalo racially discriminated white men.
According to the lawsuit filed back in 2007, the city overlooked the twelve individuals and promoted black firefighters instead.
This never should have happened,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney Andrew P. Fleming to BuffaloNews.com.
According to Fleming, the firefighters should have been given the promotions because they earned it and should have never had to go through five years of litigation.
The group of all white men alleged the fire department allowed promotional lists in which they were named to expire so they could endorse their black counter parts that had tested significantly lower on their civil service exams.
According to the plaintiffs, the city of Buffalo wanted to give minorities the upper hand.
“They really felt betrayed by the city,” Fleming told MSNBC.
Fleming added that the city had many opportunities to make things right and could have been avoided entirely back in 2006, but that his proposal to promote the men was rejected.
“The original decision not to promote these men was made at the tail end of the Masiello administration, and it carried on into the Brown administration,” Fleming said.
“Mayor Brown had the opportunity to make it right but chose to continue on with this unnecessary litigation,” he added.
The state Supreme Court Justice John Michalek awarded the ruling based on how far the promotions would have taken them in their careers. Michalek added that the men were racially discriminated against 15 months prior to the ruling.
Michalek further added, his ruling was also based on the depression and self-medication issues that played a role in the lives of some of the men.
The judge noted that a few of the firefighters felt lethargic toward their role in the fire department and became “bitter and cynical.”
This isn’t the first time the city of Buffalo has been in the spotlight for alleged racism.
Back in 2010 a group called theMen of Color Helping All Society,accused the city of rigging the fire lieutenant exam because only a handful of minorities passed. A different judge ended up dismissing the case.
Reports state mayor’s spokesman, Michael J. DeGeorge, said city attorneys are examining the judge’s decision and made no further comments on the matter.
Joseph Fahey, one of the firemen involved in the case said this is the “true nature of reverse discrimination.”
“When it happens to blacks, everybody is correctly upset about it, but when it happens to whites, nobody cares,” he concluded.
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