Looking for “smoke rather than fire” in a racial discrimination case helped employment lawyers obtain a $961,556 jury verdict for their client, who alleged he was subjected to ongoing harassment from his white colleagues.

On Aug. 31, a Howard County, Maryland, jury returned a verdict in favor of Darrell Fletcher, a Black former utility worker at the county’s Department of Public Works who brought a claim of racial harassment against his former employer. The evidence in Fletcher’s case showed a lengthy history of racial discrimination against him and other former employees, with allegations of white workers calling him “boy,” or using racial slurs, refusing to train or be trained by him, assigning him less favorable work than white colleagues, and threatening to file grievances against him for being “unqualified for the position,” among other allegations.