Civil Rights: No Laughing Matter

No Laughing Matter

Last August the city of Long Branch, N.J. (pop. 30,000), paid $1,500 in damages, plus legal fees, to a black police dispatcher who, a state judge ruled, had suffered "humiliation and anguish" after overhearing racial jokes on the police radio. Says City Attorney Eugene Iadanza: "We can't afford this again." So last week Long Branch forbade its 250 employees from cracking racial, ethnic or sexual jokes on the job. First-time offenders face reprimand, dismissal and up to $2,000 in fines.

The directive was issued after the state's division of civil rights ordered Long Branch police to comply with discrimination laws by...