Sometimes, it seems as if employees just make up reasons to sue their employers. Fortunately for employers, when employees’ claims turn out to be ludicrous, courts quickly dismiss the lawsuits.
Recent case: A group of black teachers for the City of New York Department of Education sued, alleging anti-Caribbean discrimination. They claimed they had been targeted by their supervisors, who were also black, but of African-American heritage.
One of the teachers made this claim: She had made anti-African-American statements. What happened was that African-American parents complained that the teacher was anti-American. Her African-American supervisors then developed anti-black-Caribbean animus. Therefore, her argument went, the teacher could sue for discrimination.
The court disagreed, concluding that the teacher’s “argument is nonsensical.” It concluded that the supervisors might have developed a dislike for the teacher based on the complaints, but that the dislike wasn’t based on her black-Caribbean origins. Instead, it was based logically on her perceived bigotry. (Kathy-Ann Vaughn, et al., v. City of New York, No. 06-CV-6547, ED NY, 2010)
Final note: The EEOC recognizes that racial discrimination between members of what many think of as the same protected class is possible. For example, the agency describes a type of discrimination based on the amount of pigment in black skin—so-called color discrimination. There have been cases involving discrimination by lighter-skinned supervisors against darker-skinned subordinates. You can learn more about color discrimination at www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/race-color.html.
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