Illinois Village Hit with Reverse Discrimination Lawsuit by White Police Sergeant

Reverse discrimination lawsuits under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are not common, but they do occur. Such a lawsuit was recently filed against the Village of University Park, Illinois. Sergeant Daniel Murphy, a 47-year-old police officer, has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the University Park police department discriminated against him because of his race. Murphy’s lawsuit alleges that he was repeatedly discriminated against. One instance mentioned in the lawsuit occurred in 2011, when Murphy applied for the position of chief of police. He was the only white applicant for the job and the only one not interviewed. Chicago trial lawyer Jonathan Hoeven of the Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander discusses the case in this report.

Jon Hoeven

Jon Hoeven

Hoeven says he can’t address the issue of the qualification of all the officers promoted ahead of Sgt. Murphy. However, he mentions that one man, Melvin Davis, was promoted ahead of Murphy. Davis had issues after leaving University Park in several other jobs. Hoeven notes that Murphy was the most senior of candidates for this positon and has had no disciplinary problems on his record throughout his tenure with the police department, which began in 1992. “He’s been, by all indications, an outstanding officer.”

During his time with the University Park police department, he has on occasion been assigned to investigate other officers. In fact, Hoeven says, Sgt. Murphy is scheduled to testify for University Park in November at a trial by another police officer against the village.

Hoeven says the effects of the reverse discrimination really became apparent to Sgt. Murphy in the fall of 2011. This is not a case, Hoeven adds, where there is evidence of racially disparaging statements directed against Sgt. Murphy. The basis of the lawsuit is that “there’s no other basis for his not being promoted.” Sgt. Murphy was, says Hoeven, usually the most qualified applicant and also the one who never got promoted.

Hoeven thinks that Sgt. Murphy has a great case. Apparently, the Village of University Park has been the target of reverse discrimination litigation in the past. Sgt. Murphy has a great record with the department and has nothing adverse in his record. In spite of that, he was denied promotions three times to the position of chief of police. He was recently demoted from the position of acting commander by the new chief of police, who is fifteen years junior to Sgt. Murphy but is an African-American. Hoeven says that Sgt. Murphy “is an ideal plaintiff.”

Jonathan L. Hoeven is an associate in the Law Offices of Eugene K. Hollander, Chicago, Illinois. He is a trial attorney practicing in general civil litigation with a focus on employment litigation and personal injury claims. He has experience in employment matters, including Title VII race; age; and gender discrimination; matters; retaliation; breach of contract; ADA disability discrimination and pregnancy discrimination claims. He has a wide range of personal injury experience includes automobile accident cases; medical malpractice; medical negligence; general negligence negligent hiring, retention and supervision claims (clergy sex abuse context). The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.