Federal Judge Orders State Police to Instate MRW Client Following Successful Race Discrimination Jury Trial
Firm lawyers recently succeeded in winning a federal court order requiring the Massachusetts State Police to admit Officer Orlando Riley into the next State Police training academy. Officer Riley is an African-American local police officer rejected in 2011 by the State Police based on a racially biased background investigation.
MRW partners Ellen J. Messing and James S. Weliky had already secured an important victory for their client last December when they won Officer Riley’s jury trial. The jury found the State Police liable for discrimination and awarded $130,000 to Officer Riley for lost wages and emotional distress. Of even greater import to Officer Riley, however, was the April decision awarding him the chance to become a State Trooper. “I just want what I’ve always wanted, which is a fair and equal opportunity to become a Massachusetts State Trooper, just like everyone else,” Officer Riley said in a recent statement to the Boston Globe. According to the Globe, just over five percent of sworn personnel in the State Police were African-American as of 2018, and there are no minorities in its top ranks.
The next training academy is anticipated to start later this year. Messing, Rudavsky & Weliky and our client are thrilled that the State Police have been compelled to take one small step toward equal treatment of Academy candidates. We hope more steps will follow and that the State Police will begin to recognize the legal and moral necessity of admitting African-American officers.