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When discrimination is at issue, manager’s race alone doesn’t imply prejudice

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Here’s one thing you don’t have to worry about—the race of the manager terminating another employee. The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals had rejected the idea that just because the decision-maker happens to be of a different race than the employee being disciplined, there may be racism involved.

Recent case: Richard Anderson, who is white and over age 70, worked as a school bus driver. His supervisors and many co-workers were black.

Anderson was involved in several accidents in a short time, and management was concerned that he might not be a safe driver. After the third accident, his two black managers sent him home and told him he couldn’t drive buses anymore, but he could serve as a bus monitor if he wanted.

He rejected the reassignment and sued, alleging among other claims that he had been fired because he is white.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected his arguments. First, it noted that the allegedly prejudiced black managers were the same ones who had hired Anderson in the first place. Second, the court wrote, it isn’t enough for an employee to say those who fired him belonged to a different race and therefore the case should go to trial. The racial composition of the managers isn’t, in and of itself, evidence of racism. (Anderson v. Durham D&M, et al., No. 09-1758, 8th Cir., 2010)

Final note: The EEOC had filed a brief supporting Anderson, which may indicate the agency is looking into so-called reverse discrimination.

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