Family Wins Racial Discrimination Suit against Sea Isle City

The second phase of a six-year battle finally came to an end this month when an African-American family was awarded $120,000 in settlement of a racial discrimination lawsuit against the Sea Isle City School Board. Previously, the family was awarded $550,000 in settlement of the portion of the suit involving the Town of Sea Isle City and its Police Department. (1)

The lawsuit was filed in 2004 by Doretha Waters-Rice and her son and granddaughter. According to the suit, Ms. Waters-Rice claimed that her son and granddaughter had been victims of racial slurs by teachers at the city’s schools. The suit also alleged that the granddaughter had been denied a part in a Christmas play because she was African-American. In addition, Ms. Waters-Rice claimed that the Sea Isle City Police filed false charges against her after she complained about the alleged racial harassment. (2)

In an unrelated case earlier this summer, the Justice Department announced that it had reached a consent decree that was expected to settle a case in which Green Brook Township was charged with discriminating against an African-American employee in its Department of Public Works. (3)

The decree, which was subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, calls for $35,000 in compensatory damages to be paid to the employee, Anthony Rivera. According to the suit, Rivera had been the victim of repeated racial discrimination including racial slurs, jokes and other remarks, by his supervisor while on the job. The suit also claimed that when Rivera complained about the harassment, he was retaliated against by the Township. Because Green Brook cooperated with the Civil Rights Division, this case was resolved without litigation. (3)

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) protects people against racial discrimination in employment, public accommodations and housing. The LAD states, in part, that people cannot be denied service or turned down or harassed when using public facilities. It also covers situations where people are harassed verbally or physically while on the job or in school. In New Jersey, the Division of Civil Rights is authorized to investigate racial discrimination complaints. (4)

(1) http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/09/nj_family_reaches_100k_settlem.html

(2) http://www.newyorkinjurynews.com/2010/07/25/sea-isle-city-new-jersey-racial-discrimination-partial-settlement-reached_201007254421.html

(3) http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/June/10-crt-691.html

(4) http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/factsheets/fact_rac.pdf