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NEW ORLEANS -- A federal appeals court has upheld a jury's $225,000 award to a former Grambling State University police chief who claims he was fired by the historically black school because he tried to hire a white assistant.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans sided Tuesday with Rodney Tureaud Junior, a black alumnus of Grambling who was hired as the university's police chief in October 2002 and fired less than a year later.

Grambling denied retaliating against Tureaud because he supported a white applicant to be hired as assistant police chief. The school cited other reasons for his dismissal, including allegations of rude conduct, inappropriate comments and poor judgment in arresting a student.

But the appeals court says a rational jury could have believed Tureaud's claims and rejected Grambling's defense that it had "legitimate, non-discriminatory" reasons for firing him.
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