The scenario: An African American worker was turned down for a promotion in favor of a white coworker who had less experience than the Black man did. Ironically, the Black staffer had trained the white worker.
Later, the Black staffer found out that the white supervisor who made the promotion decision had said that the Black man was “a lazy n-gg-r who wants everything handed to him.” Then he allegedly said that all Black workers ought to be happy to just have a job.
When the Black man told his supervisor that he believed he was passed over for the promotion because of his race, the manager insisted that he wasn’t a racist, that he had mixed-race children and that the employee didn’t get the promotion because he lacked communication skills.
The Black worker filed an internal complaint of race discrimination. The company investigated his allegations and terminated the white manager.
Legal challenge: The Black worker sued for race bias. He argued that he was denied a promotion because of his race. He pointed out that his boss had called him a “lazy n-gg-r.”
The employer said that the staffer was denied the promotion because of poor communication skills. The company also noted that the man’s claims were investigated, and the white boss was fired.
The ruling: The company lost. The court ruled that the worker may have been discriminated against because of his race.
The judge pointed to the decision maker’s racist comments and the fact that the Black man had trained the white worker who got the promotion as proof of ill intent.
The skinny: Don’t forget the value of solid, supportable reasons for promotion denials. Wishy-washy explanations for not promoting someone often raise a red flag for workers.
Cite: Gary and Duffy v. Facebook, Inc., U.S. Court of Appeals 4, No. 18-1994, 8/26/20.
(From the Sept. 25, 2020, issue of HR Manager’s Legal Alert for Supervisors. To download the current issue of the publication right now, please click here.)