Eighth Circuit upholds discrimination verdict

Bonenberger v. St. Louis Metro. Police Dep’t, No. 14-3696 (8th Cir. Jan. 19, 2016).

This is the rare employment-discrimination case that was tried to a plaintiff’s verdict. It is also the perhaps less rare case in which a white plaintiff is claiming racial discrimination. Here, the plaintiff, a long-time employee of the St. Louis Police Department, applied for an administrative position in the police academy. He was denied the position, and sued.

There was certainly evidence of discrimination to support the jury’s verdict. According to some testimony, for example, a police lieutenant told the plaintiff that he shouldn’t bother applying for the open position, because there was “no way they were going to put a white male in that position.” The plaintiff applied anyway—and the position, as predicted, was awarded to a black woman. The Eighth Circuit has little trouble affirming the verdict.