A noose on a table doesn’t mean the same thing to an all-white jury as it does to a 64-year-old black man, says retired city of Cocoa worker James Daniels. A six-member jury dismissed Daniels’ race discrimination lawsuit against the city, which centered on an incident involving a noose left on a break room table.
“Most white folks don’t know what blacks go through,” Daniels said in response to the verdict. “A noose to me is threatening.”
A white employee testified that he put the noose on the table to signify that the union had hung workers out to dry, not as a racist statement. The city produced photos of Daniels’ retirement party, which was attended by several employees Daniels accused of harassment.
The defense further showed that it had reprimanded one employee because of racist language in response to a complaint from Daniels.
Final note: Whether the race of the jury had anything to do with it, the city no doubt fared better in court because it could show it responded to at least one of Daniels’ complaints. While you can’t control all your employees’ actions, you can control how your company responds to complaints.