Last year the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that there were no racial undertones when a white manager at a Tyson chicken plant in Alabama called black men working there “boy.” The Court ruled that the usages were conversational but nonracial in context due to ambiguity and vagueness. In 2002, the first jury awarded Mr. John Hithon more than $1 million, but the 11th Circuit in 2005 ordered the case retried. The second jury also ruled for Hithon, again awarding him more than $1 million. In the end, the new decision upheld a compensatory award to Mr. Hithon of about $365,000. The Court of Appeals decision struck down a $1 million award of punitive damages. The reasoning is that the manager in question was not high enough in Tyson’s corporate hierarchy for his actions to be attributed to the company. Hithon testified to the jury that the connotation of “boy,” is a highly offensive comment in the South. Full article.

Today, slurs and remarks run wild in the workplace. Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Offensive conduct that rises to the level of harassment in the workplace is unlawful. This may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance. For more information: EEOC Website

Leeds Brown Law, PC dedicates a large portion of their practice to the area of employment law. Our firm has had considerable success in matters of employment discrimination throughout Long Island and the New York City area. For more information, contact Leeds, Morelli and Brown, PC at 1-800-585-4658 for a free consultation.