NJ Transit Cops Win Discrimination Suit

NJ Transit has agreed to pay $5.8 million to 10 minority police officers as compensation for a string of racial insults and slurs delivered by former NJT Police chief Joseph Bober, who left NJT in 2009 after a previous discrimination lawsuit by a female lieutenant, who alleged sexual discrimination and was awarded $1.5 million in her case.  According to reporting by Mike Frassinelli in the Star-Ledger (Sept. 25), the 10 officers, all veterans still serving (9 African-Americans and 1 Latino) endured slurs such as “Stepin Fetchit”, “Knuckles” (a suggestion that the officer was a “knuckle-dragging gorilla”), the N-word, and “porch monkeys”; one Black officer said that Chief Bober refused to shake the officer’s hand during a promotion ceremony.  Lawyer for the 10 officers Nancy Erika Smith of Montclair said, “Bober and his cohorts pretty much established the Ku Klux Klan in the NJ Transit Police Department.”  As part of the settlement, NJT has agreed to establish an ombudsman as a resource for employees.  The climate at the police department has reportedly markedly improved under the current chief, Christopher Trucillo, who was hired in July 2010.