LAFD Hit With $1.1 Race Discrimination Verdict

A jury has awarded a Los Angeles City firefighter $1.1 million in damages for race discrimination. The verdict came yesterday for veteran firefighter Jabari S. Jumaane, following seven weeks of trial and sixteen days of jury deliberations in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The case originated back in 2000 when Jumaane, assigned as a fire inspector, was suspended for “alleged insubordination and for failing to take a Department vehicle home, which would have required him to have coverage with his own insurance policy.” He filed a complaint with Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) in 2002, and thereafter sued the city alleging race discrimination, racial harassment and retaliation.

Jumaane’s case went to trial in 2007 and a jury returned a verdict in favor of the city. However, after the trial one of the jurors reported that another juror expressed a bias during deliberations stating “all black people want is money”. While the trial court refused to grant a new trial, in 2010 the California Court of Appeals reversed, setting the stage for yesterday’s $1.1 million verdict.

Jumaane, who recently ran unsuccessfully for city council, was quoted by the LA Times as saying “I think the evidence speaks for itself. … The evidence beckoned for the verdict the jury found." The city argued that Jumaane disobeyed orders, failed to do his fire inspector’s job, and on one occasion missed work for a week without telling anyone.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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