The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
Lagrua v. Ward, 136 Misc. 655 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 1987) involved a New York police officer who, to benefit from an affirmative action program, sought to change his ethnic classification with the police department from white to Hispanic. To substantiate his claim of Hispanic identity, Lagrua claimed that his mother was born in Gibraltar and that his maternal grandparents were of Hispanic origin. He also claimed that he had joined the Police Department's Hispanic Organization. The officer in charge of such things could not substantiate that Lagrua had ever been a member of the Hispanic Society. Moreover, though originally part of Spain, "Gibraltar is and has been under British rule since 1718; the culture there is mixed, the official language is English and the law is based on English Common law. Although Spanish is widely spoken the Gibraltarian way of life is predominantly British." The department therefore determined that Lagrua was not Hispanic, a conclusion accepted by the police department's equal opportunity office. On appeal to the New York State Supreme Court, the court concluded that this decision was not erroneous, and therefore ruled that Lagrua would remain classified as white.