$1 Million Verdict For Racial Harassment and Retaliation Upheld

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has refused to overturn a $1 million jury verdict in favor of a black firefighter who claims he was harassed and retaliated against by the Montebello Fire Department.

Vernon Creswell filed suit in 2013 claiming he had been the victim of race discrimination, racial harassment and retaliation while serving as a firefighter in Montebello. Among the allegations in the complaint, Creswell claims a battalion chief referred to him using the “N-word”, and he was passed over for promotion after he complained.

In July, a unanimous superior court jury awarded him $185,150 in lost wages and $750,000 for emotional distress on the racial harassment and retaliation claims. The jury rejected his allegation of race discrimination.

Today, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Allen White upheld the jury’s award. The city had asked Judge White to overrule the jury.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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