This year, we have seen many high profile cases in which deadly actions were committed that were allegedly racially motivated. The fact remains that some communities around the world live in a state of high alert against intrusion from “unfriendly neighbors”, with a stash of weapons to aid in their self-defense. The Equal Rights Amendment and other legislation were enacted to ensure that the same attitudes cannot be carried over to the workplace. But, the number of laws against such discrimination is far outnumbered by the cases of discrimination, which are taken to court.
At the mention of discrimination, one immediately conjures up an image of the oppressor and the oppressed. Unfortunately, racial biases affect all groups. In an instance of racial discrimination, a white attorney named Dulin, who worked for Greenwood Leflore Hospital, was suddenly terminated by the Board of Commissioners. With 20 years of continuous service with the hospital, the attorney knew that the Chairman of the Board instructed that he be replaced by an Afro-American lawyer. When Dulin took the matter to court in 2012 alleging racial discrimination, he was awarded $12,000 in back pay and $70,000 in compensatory damages. The Hospital appealed the excessive damages and the case was decided this week.
While dismissing the appeal, the court also suggested that $150,000 would be a better number for the damages sustained. The court refused to reduce the award of $82,000..
To avoid getting embroiled in similar disputes, employers need to remember that they need to:
Exercise care to keep words and actions racially neutral.
The Title VI of the Civil Rights Act affords an inviolable right against discrimination to everyone and cannot be toyed with. Simply stated, no aspect of a person’s workplace experience, whether it be hiring, firing, pay scale, promotion, layoff, training, benefits or any other condition may be determined by a person’s race – either positively or negatively.
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