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N.J. Pays $5M to Settle Trooper Suit

July 1, 2002

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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ New Jersey will pay $5 million to settle a race discrimination lawsuit filed by 13 black state troopers who claimed they were harassed and denied promotions.

The settlements, covering back pay and emotional distress, were negotiated separately and ranged from $225,000 to $500,000, said Douglas Wolfson, director of the Division of Law in the Attorney General’s Office.

``We’ve taken the position we are not going to fight these cases,″ Wolfson told The Star-Ledger of Newark. ``We are past the point of trying to defend these cases, of saying they were not subjected to discrimination.″

Negotiations were completed in April, but the deal could not be completed until the state budget was approved early Monday. The settlement included $1 million in attorney fees, Wolfson said.

The settlement came nearly a decade after the minority troopers were among the first to accuse other troopers of racial profiling and discrimination in the workplace.

The issue gained national prominence after a 1998 shooting on the New Jersey Turnpike in which two white troopers fired on a van occupied by four minority men, wounding three. The troopers eventually pleaded guilty to official misconduct, and the state paid a $12.95 million settlement to the van’s occupants.

A year after the shooting, the state attorney general admitted that the troopers had engaged in racial profiling. To prevent a federal lawsuit, the state agreed to reforms including monitoring the races of motorists stopped by troopers.

The newly settled lawsuit alleged that the state police increased its minority representation because of a 1975 federal court order but then harassed and discriminated against the new hires.

It also maintained that the plaintiffs’ careers were stalled when they complained about the racial profiling of motorists.


On the Net:

N.J. state police: http://www.njsp.org

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