TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey discrimination suit has been settled with two white corrections officers winning against the state’s Department of Corrections.
The outcome of the lawsuit is seen as a big win for corrections officers Joe Milutin and Bob Healey. Both were awarded more than $3 million in damages.
“I’m happy. I was vindicated and that’s all that matters,” Healey said.
Milutin, meanwhile, told CBS 2’s John Slattery on Thursday that he felt “relieved.”
The two men had charged that over several years, they were harassed by black corrections supervisors, who allowed black inmates to abuse them at the Bordentown Boot Camp Jail.
“I had racial remarks used against me, I’ll leave it at that,” Healey said. “It was demeaning.”
His attorneys said the two officers were subjected to a litany of slurs by black supervisors.
“They were called, ‘crackers,’ ‘white devils,’ ‘onions,’ which we learned was an epithet used by one individual supervisor to refer to white people,” said attorney Gina Mendola Longarzo.
According the attorney Kara MacKenzie, the officers were also called “white boys, country boys” and “good ‘ole country boys” by both co-workers and supervisors.
The jury, made up of seven white jurors and one black juror, found that the two officers were treated in a hostile way, and then were retaliated against when they complained.
“And after they complained about it, they were brought up on fabricated charges that they were abusing inmates. And when the inmates came forward and said ‘none of this is true, this didn’t happen,’ they buried that evidence. So there was frame job then cover up,” Mendola Longarzo said.
A spokesman for the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, which defended the Department of Corrections, had no comment on the verdict except to say there is a possibility of an appeal.
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