Hostile work environment based on race

My sister was recently terminated from her job of 22 years. She suffers from clinically diagnosed depression, this was diagnosed 7 years ago. She transferred to a new job, where she was the only caucasion on the staff. She was subjected to comments such as "you couldn't relate to this because you're white", she was called the white girl by clients, she was referred to by staff as the token white, on a visit to her office, we were told we must be there to see Katy as the clients at her office were not in general caucasion. Dissatisfied clients often used race as the reason the she was not able to grant their requests. She was not supported in this by management. She was in a supervisory position and referred to the staff as "her staff" but was told that she shouldn't use this expression because "Lincoln freed the slaves." This was not the cause of her termination, she was let go due to a "preventable loss", however the circumstances that led to the loss were common practice in her office. Does she have a case for a hostile work environment based on race? What would it take to prove a case like that?

1 answer  |  asked Feb 4, 2003 10:41 PM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

Answers (1)

Neil Klingshirn
Reverse discrimination is proven the same as any other discrimination case.

To prove race discrimination, your sister must prove:

1. Different treatment;

2. That adversely affects her.

3. Because of her race;

and damages as a result.

It sounds like the black staff have a problem with your sister's race, white. If your sister can prove that management shared that bias and terminated her because of it, she can recover the full range of discrimation damages (lost wages and benefits, reinstatement and compensatory damages).

The fact that your sister is white and the staff are black does not make a difference if the management decision-makers a black too. Until recently, a white victim of discrimination had a harder burden to prove when claiming discrimination by blacks, since whites have not historically been victims of discrimination. The federal appeals court in Ohio, however, recently ruled that a victim of so called "reverse discrimination" by member of another race need only prove the same thing as the victim of discrimination by whites, which is that their race played a motivating role in whatever harmful things were done to them.

As for the harassment, courts look it as a form of discfrimination. If the staff harasses your sister because of her race, or the harassment is based on her race, then the law forbids that harassment. To know more about discrimination and harassment as a form of discrimination, please see the FAQs on harassment on this site on those topics.

Best regards,

Therefore, reverse race

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Feb 5, 2003 2:12 PM [EST]

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