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$2 Million Damage Award In Reverse Discrimination Case

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File photo of a gavel (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

File photo of a gavel (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, Associated Press

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ A group of firefighters who won a reverse discrimination case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009 have been awarded about $2 million in damages from the city of New Haven, attorneys said Thursday.

The Supreme Court ruled that officials violated white firefighters’ civil rights when they threw out 2003 promotion tests results because too few minorities did well. The firefighters returned to U.S. District Court in Connecticut seeking back pay, damages and legal fees.

Court papers indicate 20 firefighters have accepted offers from the city for back pay, additional pension benefits and interest. A trial was scheduled to start Aug. 26.

Attorneys for the city told The Associated Press on Thursday that the firefighters will receive about $2 million as well as pension improvements and the city will pay their attorneys’ fees of about $3 million.

“I think it’s a fair offer,” said Richard Roberts, an attorney who represented the city. “We’re glad we can move ahead and put this behind us.”

Karen Torre, attorney for the firefighters, says the process should be completed in a few days.

Torre argued in court in 2009 that the firefighters were entitled to back pay with interest for long-overdue promotions, several categories of damages and attorney fees. She said the firefighters were subject to “the humiliation and economic hardship of prolonged career stagnancy in a rancorous atmosphere fostered by raw racial divides.”

The case became an issue in confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who ruled against the white firefighters when she served on a federal appeals court.

     (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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