10 March 2014, 18:32

Millions awarded to Latino officers in California discrimination trial

Lawyers from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Funds, MALDEF, represented Officers Jose Flores, Ryan Reyes and Brian Perez, and argued successfully that they were denied multiple promotions within the police department and were repeatedly retaliated against after reporting the incidents.

Lawyers from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Funds, MALDEF, represented Officers Jose Flores, Ryan Reyes and Brian Perez, and argued successfully that they were denied multiple promotions within the police department and were repeatedly retaliated against after reporting the incidents.

Lawyers from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Funds, MALDEF, represented Officers Jose Flores, Ryan Reyes and Brian Perez, and argued successfully that they were denied multiple promotions within the police department and were repeatedly retaliated against after reporting the incidents.

By Lauren Murphy

WASHINGTON (VR) – A jury unanimously awarded March 6 three Latino police officers from Westminster, California over $3 million in a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit.

Lawyers from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Funds, MALDEF, represented Officers Jose Flores, Ryan Reyes and Brian Perez, and argued successfully that they were denied multiple promotions within the police department and were repeatedly retaliated against after reporting the incidents.

Victor Viramontes, National Senior Counsel for MALDEF, said “three Latino officers came forward and risked their careers because they felt like they were being denied promotions and special assignments.” He said all three of the officers were very accomplished in other areas, and there was no reason they shouldn’t have received promotions.

Viramontes called the jury’s decision in the case “exceptional” because they found liability under California state law for retaliation, and under federal law for discrimination. He said liability was also found against the individual chiefs and punitive damages. He said punitive damages are very unusual because “it’s basically a cue from the jury that they are punishing those who were wrong and sending a message to the defendants, in this case Westminster, for all of the bad things they did.”

Viramontes thinks this will set a precedent nationally, and send a message to other departments. He said the departments are going to “have to look at what they are doing and start eliminating practices that would make them like Westminster.”

 

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