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Racism not necessarily employer’s fault even if incident occurs on its premises

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

It’s indisputable that some members of racial, ethnic or other minorities experience discrimination from time to time—and of course, that can affect them at work. However, not every discriminatory act that involves work can be blamed on an employer.

Take, for example, a black applicant on his way to an important job interview. Pulled over by police in what may be a case of racial profiling, the applicant is late for the interview. That does not mean that the racial profiling that made him late can somehow be used as the basis of a lawsuit against the employer. That seems clear.

But what about racism that may happen closer to the workplace?

Recent case: Jamel was waiting for his second interview for a driver job at a medical center. While sitting in the waiting room, a person not involved in the hiring process allegedly accused Jamel of stealing her cell phone. The police were called, and when they arrived, they interrogated Jamel. When he protested his treatment, he was thrown out of the hospital.

He didn’t get the job, although he was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing.

He sued, alleging that he had been singled out because of his race while waiting for the interview and that racism cost him his chance at the job.

The court said he had no case since the employer wasn’t involved in the false accusation. The fact that the incident took place on the employer’s premises was irrelevant. (Williams v. New York Hospital Medical Center, 2nd Cir., 2017)

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