Jury selection begins in officer racial discrimination lawsuit - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Jury selection begins in officer racial discrimination lawsuit

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Jury selection is underway in the trial of a racial discrimination suit filed by an Albany Police officer.

A white officer says he was passed over for promotion because of his skin color. 

Brian Lavoie, a 20 year city of Albany employee, filed the lawsuit in January 2011.

Lavoie claims that in September 2009 Albany Police selected six people to be hired or promoted to Captain in the police department, and five of the six were African American.

His lawsuit will be heard by a jury. Legal experts say this is a rare case in federal court.

A legal expert who is not part of this lawsuit, Attorney Phil Cannon, told us "it's very unusual for a racial discrimination suit to get to the point it is. To actually go to a trial."

Lavoie says he suffered emotional distress, mental pain and suffering, and even bodily injury as a result of being passed over for promotion.

Lavoie in his lawsuit says that some of the African American candidates, with less experience and qualifications, were selected over him.

Cannon said "To me, as much as this has started out about and it happens to be about black and white, it's going to be, I think it's going to be more about what was actually the qualifications actually used to grant the promotions."

Lavoie's is asking for more than $75,000 in his lawsuit, as compensation for lost wages, damages, and attorney fees.

Lavoie is still employed the Albany Police Department, and was promoted to Captain in 2013.

Phil Cannon is not involved in this federal lawsuit on either side. He helped us as legal expert for this story.

Copyright 2014 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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