Tuesday, 26 March 2013 09:23
An African-American employee received a text message from his foreman containing a picture depicting a masked Santa Claus holding a noose, standing in front of a burning cross. The foreman also allegedly made a series of racially offensive remarks. Another African-American employee discovered what he claimed was a “wire noose” in his work area. A third African-American employee claimed he was terminated for a safety offense for which white employees were not terminated. You may be thinking by now these three employees have a pretty solid case for race discrimination, harassment, retaliation and hostile work environment under Title VII, presenting an insurmountable hurdle for their former employer.
You would be wrong.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas granted summary judgment for the employer on all claims. The district court held the employer successfully raised an affirmative defense to the first claim of harassment, finding the employer exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct the harassing behavior. As to the second claim, there was no evidence of employer responsibility for the purported noose and the employee failed to establish the employer knew or should have known of the harassment, yet failed to swiftly address it. Last, the district court held the employee terminated for safety reasons could not show he was “similarly situated” to other white employees who purportedly committed safety violations as well.
Read the full article here.