EA-18G Growler
An EA-18G Growler at the Fleet Readiness Center
Southwest. Photo via @frcsw Twitter

A white engineer who alleged he was racially discriminated against by the Navy when he was passed over for a promotion in favor of a Hispanic applicant lost a discrimination lawsuit in San Diego federal court, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.

A federal jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of the Navy last week, rejecting allegations that Brett Gardner was discriminated against when he didn’t receive a supervisory engineering position at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest in 2018.

In his lawsuit, Gardner alleged a Hispanic supervisor denied him a promotion and selected a fellow Hispanic candidate who was “far less qualified.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in court documents that both Gardner and the ultimately selected candidate “had similar knowledge, skills, and abilities,” but Gardner did not perform as well during the interview portion.

Gardner alleged the supervisor was instrumental in developing a program at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest that aimed to further the career prospects of Hispanic employees. While Gardner alleged the supervisor’s involvement in the program showed that preferential treatment was being provided for certain employees, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said that program — the Hispanic Engagement Action Team — is not designed to “discriminate against any group of individuals or to promote a certain class of individuals over others.”

A seven-person jury deliberated for under an hour last Thursday before returning its verdict.

In a news release, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Haden said the verdict “confirms that the Navy’s process in this case was fair and merit-based.”

City News Service contributed to this article.


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Ellen Bullock