JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—Four white fire lieutenants were not promoted by Jacksonville’s black former fire chief because of their race, a jury ruled.
The lawsuit focused on the denied promotions of Lts. Michael Price, George Williams, Mike Perryman and Nolen Sauls, who has since died. On Friday, the jury awarded them back pay, finding that race was the motivating factor in former Fire and Rescue Chief Ray Alfred’s decision not to create rescue captain positions even though they were next in line for promotion in 1999.
The department’s rescue division chief had recommended them for the posts, but Alfred rejected the new positions after seeing the list of candidates.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan will now decide whether to order the city to promote the men to captain as a result of the verdict.
City Hall attorney Ernst Mueller called the ruling disheartening.
“I think they got it wrong,” he said. “I don’t think that Ray Alfred discriminated.”
Alfred was not in court Friday. His phone number is not listed and he could not be reached for comment Saturday.