al.com, AP, Feb. 7
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — A federal jury ordered the city of Mobile to pay more than $250,000 to a white firefighter in a suit over a job promotion that went to a black coworker with less seniority.
Fire Capt. Alan Silvester claimed Fire Chief Stephen Dean, also white, discriminated against Silvester on the basis of race in promoting black firefighter Mike Trenier to an administrative post.
Trenier finished second to Silvester on the application test for the job. Dean and other witnesses testified, however, that department heads legally can choose any of the 10 finalists for a job opening, as determined by the Personnel Board.
Dean said he selected Trenier primarily because of his high grade-point average and the fact that, while serving as interim fire administrator, he oversaw an important accreditation process for the department.
Dean declined to comment on the jury’s decision. A city lawyer, Paul Carbo, said he did not immediately know whether city officials would appeal Friday’s verdict returned by an eight-member jury with one black person on it.
Dean had set a goal of achieving greater racial balance in the Fire Department ranks. The department was more than 90 percent white in the early 1990s and remains about 80 percent white today.
The issue of whether Silvester will be promoted now rests with Chief U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade.
Granade gave the lawyers until March 5 to file additional motions on that aspect of the case.