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Harassment over interracial relationship spells big trouble

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Don’t let biased notions of who can marry whom poison your workplace.

Recent case: Scott, who is white, was working for the Erie County Water Authority when he fell in love with a black woman and married her. During the engagement, Scott claimed he had been repeatedly har­­assed about the relationship. The alleged harassers included supervisors; the alleged harassment included the frequent use of racial slurs to describe his fiancé, her children and Scott’s status in their eyes as a “n****r lover.”

Scott was fired for poor performance and he sued for harassment. A jury awarded him more than $300,000 in damages. Now the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the award, based in part on his constitutional right to freedom of association. (Matusick v. Erie County Water Authority, et al., No. 11-1234, 2nd Cir., 2014)

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