Articles Posted in Race

Brussels Airport Company employees (11993150334)

Last week, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals daintily dabbed the Cheez Whiz from their cheeseteak holes and voted provolone out of Philadelphia took up the issue of whether a company with which a staffing company places temporary workers can be sued for discrimination.

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2008-11-10 Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse in Chapel Hill.jpg

It’s very well settled law that accommodating a customer’s preference to be serviced by employees of a particular race is, well, racist. A few weeks ago, this situation arose with a Lowe’s store in Virginia. A CBS affiliate reported (here) that a white Lowe’s customer refused to accept a delivery from a black Lowe’s deliveryman. According to the report, the customer specifically asked Lowe’s not to send a black delivery person. The customer told the CBS affiliate that “she had the right to have whatever she wanted and she did not feel bad about making the request for a white driver.”

Unfortunately, the story indicates that the store manager accommodated the customer by sending out a white driver instead. However, after the incident was reported to corporate, the company issued a statement denouncing the “discriminatory delivery request” as “inconsistent with our diversity and inclusion core values.” Lowe’s also terminated the store manager’s employment.

Employers are responsible for taking reasonable steps to maintain a workplace that is free from discrimination and unlawful harassment. Responsible companies have handbooks, policies, and training to help accomplish this. But, just remember that folks like customers, vendors, and the like are part of the workplace too. So, remind your workforce — especially your managers and supervisors — not to tolerate behavior that wouldn’t otherwise be condoned if displayed by an employee.

Image Credit: “2008-11-10 Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse in Chapel Hill” by Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons.

Kelly Osbourne 2013.jpg

Earlier this year, Kelly Osbourne walked out on E!’s Fashion Police shortly after her co-host, Giuliana Rancic, criticized a young African-American Disney star. Specifically, Ms. Rancic called out the actress for donning dreadlocks at the 2015 Oscars, saying that she must have smelled of “patchouli” and “weed.” Many found Ms. Rancic’s comments racist. Ms. Osbourne too must have been affected, because she told People Magazine that she left Fashion Police because she was not “going to sit there and perpetuate evilness.”

Fast forward several months. Continue reading


Late last week, Rachel Dolezal, the President of the Spokane Chapter of the NAACP and a leader in the black community, was outed by her parents as being white.

The controversy caught a lot of people by surprise, most notably, the Spokane Chapter. Amidst a flurry of activity over the weekend — just check your Facebook and Twitter feeds — Ms. Dolezal planned to address the issue at a monthly meeting tonight. However, the Spokane Chapter announced on its Facebook page that the meeting would be postponed “to continue discussion with regional and national NAACP leaders.”

Now, what if this discussion consummated in firing Ms. Dolezal? Would that be legal? Continue reading

picketAn employee was caught on video saying to black employees, “Hey, did you bring enough KFC for everyone?” and “Hey, anybody smell that? I smell fried chicken and watermelon.” The company had a strict anti-harassment policy. So, after learning about the comments, the company fired the employee.

So, what would compel an Administrative Law Judge to require that the company reinstate him? Continue reading

Last year, I channelled Bill Clinton in this blog post about how courts rarely recognize a single incident or two as creating what the law deems a hostile work environment.

Yeah, about that.

Even a few isolated comments can create a hostile work environment.

In Boyer-Liberto v. Fontainebleu Corp. (opinion here), the full panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that two aggressive racial slurs made to an employee within a 24-hour period, may create a hostile work environment. (Here, the plaintiff, who is African-American, was twice called a “porch monkey.” And, each time, the harasser threatened the plaintiff).

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