White Male Worker, Doug Carl, Wins $300,000 In 'Reverse Discrimination' Suit
Doug Carl (pictured above), Fulton County's former deputy director of human services, applied for the job of director in April 2007, after the person holding that post -- a black woman -- stepped down. He believes that he was passed over, in favor of another black woman, because county officials wanted a black woman in that job, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Fulton County Manager Tom Andrews, one of the defendants, admitted during the trial that he called employees "black marbles" and "white marbles" in making personnel decisions. County Commissioner Emma Darnell also allegedly made racially charged remarks, supposedly telling a deputy county manager that she had "too many white boys' in human services, and that the new director should be black and female.
Darnell denied making such a statement, however, and no witness testified to hearing those comments firsthand. County attorney David Ware said that the comments were admitted to court "despite their being untrue and based on rank hearsay," reports WSB-TV in Atlanta.
In a written statement after the verdict, Ware claimed that race had nothing to do with the selection process. Carl "completely blew the interview," Ware said, and he expects the decision to be overturned in an appeal.
"The only reason Mr. Carl alleges that race played a part in the selection process is because the person chosen happened to be an African-American female," Ware said in his statement, reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Mr. Carl was incredulous that a black woman would be chosen over him and thus decided to accuse the county of a race-based decision."
Carl eventually retired in 2010, when his position was eliminated, and has dedicated much of his time since to fighting a different kind of injustice. His close friend, a gay activist, died suddenly the year before, and Carl decided to focus his energies on one of the issues that, reports GA Voice, they most cared about: the isolation, stigma, and discrimination facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elderly. Carl led the charge for Atlanta to become an affiliate of the national Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders.
"Discrimination is wrong, period, and knows no color bounds," Carl told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. After the verdict, he told WSB-TV that he felt "absolute relief."
"It's just vindication," he said, "that people heard what I experienced and it was believed."
The jury could decide to triple Carl's compensation in the next month, if they choose to add in future lost wages, pension benefits and attorney's fees.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws race, sex and various other kinds of discrimination, was initially intended to end the suppression of the black vote, as well as racial segregation in schools, workplaces and public facilities. But increasing numbers of white men claim that they have become victims of racial and sex bias, and are demanding justice under the law.
Between 1998 and 2008, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission noted a 45 percent increase of race-based discrimination complaints brought by whites, reported the Kansas City Star. And as of 2008, those complaints made up over 10 percent of all complaints received by the agency.
Firefighters have been at the forefront of these battles, challenging affirmative action policies thought to disadvantage whites. Firefighters in numerous cities, including Mobile, Ala., Chicago, and Jacksonville, Fla., have won significant payouts, and in a landmark 2009 case, the Supreme Court ruled that New Haven, Conn., couldn't scrap its fire department promotion test just because all the ones who earned promotions were white. "Reverse discrimination" suits have also been successfully brought by police officers, lawyers, teachers, manufacturers and professors -- sometimes leading to settlements in the millions.
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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