District Attorney Eddie Jordan, when he started his job in 2003, fired 53 of 77 white nonlawyers in the office, and replaced them with blacks. The fired workers ranged from investigators to clerks to child-support enforcement officials, according to the AP.
Soon after their firing, most of the white former employees filed suit. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also made a preliminary finding that the move was racially based.
Jordan admitted that he wanted more diversity at the office after his arrival, but denied that the firings were based on race. He claimed that he did not know the race of the people he was firing.
A jury – comprised of eight white and two blacks – unanimously stated that the move amounted to racial discrimination. The fired employees have been awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in back pay and damages, the AP reports.
Federal law prohibits mass firings of a specific group, even when the intent is to create a more diverse work environment.
Jordan told the AP that he will appeal the ruling.