Racial Discrimination at work in the 21st Century
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Racial Discrimination at work in the 21st Century

Despite advances, racial discrimination in the workplace still exists

Costly tradition

Small, family-run businesses are the backbone of our economy. While many bring old-fashioned family values to the workplace, others need to be dragged – kicking and screaming – into the 21st century.

An employer with roots in the community going back more than 100 years had a tradition of steering female applicants into low-paying jobs – and rarely hiring blacks at all.

Three hundred African-Americans and women filed a racial discrimination lawsuit – and they won a $2.5 million settlement. The employer also promised to improve recruitment in minority neighborhoods.

Cite: EEOC v. Buddig & Co.

Firm posted ‘whites -only’ restroom sign

The year is 2005, not 1955. And yet, the complaint of two African-American employees was that management at an Alabama plant reserved a restroom for whites by posting a “Whites Only” sign and giving keys to white employees only.

The EEOC, which sued on the employees’ behalf for workplace racial discrimination, said that when they complained they were written up and suspended.

Cite: EEOC v. Tyson Foods.

No openings?

When positions open up, make sure everyone in the company knows about them. Twenty-two African-Americans who work for a midwest manufacturer said they would have applied for supervisory positions if only they’d known the positions were open. They sued and won a judgment of $100,000 for racial discrimination at work in hiring.

Cite: EEOC v. Griffin Pipe Products.

An expensive word or two for racial discrimination at work

You know the old saw about loose lips sinking ships. Loose lips can also cause big legal fights over a word or two. A manager at a New Jersey auto dealership, who wasn’t used to doing payroll, messed up the calculation of one employee’s paycheck.

Then the manager compounded his error by making an offensive racial comment to the employee during the ensuing argument. A judge ruled that one “inexcusable” remark didn’t make a successful discrimination case, the case did go as far as federal appeals court. And that cost a bundle.

Cite: Lawrence v. F.C. Kerbeck.

Suit was just what the doctor ordered

A doctor’s alleged comment that black people “were born to experiment on” has come back to bite the hospital that employed him.

Another doctor, of Indian origin, who was suing the hospital for racial discrimination at work, claimed the chief of emergency medicine made this racist remark. The Indian doctor sought to introduce it as evidence of a climate of bias in the ER. The full remark, he said, was: “Black people were born to experiment on before and after death.”

The judge said the remark could be quoted in court, because it might show the ER chief had race in mind when he fired the Indian doctor.

Cite: Singh v. Allen Mem. Hosp. Corp.

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