According to a recently filed federal lawsuit, K.R., an African-American man who worked in a New Jersey manufacturing facility for a decade and a half, suffered a horrific array of extreme instances of racial discrimination. At this point in time, the acts of race discrimination in K.R.’s case are just allegations – they have not yet been proven in a court of law. Nevertheless, K.R.’s case is a useful one for workers of color in New Jersey to look at, as it serves as an important reminder that you don’t need hundreds or dozens (or even multiple) instances of discrimination in order to have a successful case. With even just a single instance of severe discrimination, you may have a winning case. To be sure you have the strongest case possible to present to the court, reach out to an experienced New Jersey racial discrimination attorney as soon as possible.
According to a report in mycentraljersey.com, the racism-fueled harassment allegedly began just two months after K.R. started his job. First, two white employees allegedly vandalized his vehicle. K.R. reported it, and even after the white employees admitted what they’d done, the employer merely paid for the damages, but took no “remedial or disciplinary” action against those employees, according to the lawsuit.
One year later, a Hispanic employee allegedly told K.R. and two African-American co-workers that they’d been assigned to work in the workplace’s freezer because “the three of you are” [N-words]. (There allegedly was an additionally profane slur preceding the N-word.)
The year after that, there was an alleged incident in which another employee showed K.R. a picture of a noose on a cell phone. The next year, there allegedly was another instance of K.R. being called the N-word. Two years later, there was an alleged instance where another worker would increase the volume of his DVD player every time the African-American comedian on the DVD used the N-word.
Each time, K.R. allegedly reported the actions. Each time, according to the lawsuit, the employer took no remedial or disciplinary action.
A successful case requires severe or pervasive conduct; need not be both
One of the key things to know about a case like K.R.’s is that, even if he proves only a fraction of what he’s alleged, he potentially can win his case. K.R. sued in federal court here in New Jersey. The law regarding federal cases of workplace race discrimination based on a hostile work environment is very clear that the worker must prove that the discrimination he suffered was severe or pervasive. The law does not demand that K.R. prove the discrimination was both severe and pervasive.
What K.R. has alleged would, if it all was proven, probably amount to pervasive discrimination. However, even if the worker failed in proving nearly everything he alleged, merely meeting his burden of proof on the incident in the freezer might be all he would need for a judgment in his favor. Three years ago, the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals, with jurisdiction over federal lawsuits in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, ruled that even just a single utterance of the N-word could potentially be enough to meet federal discrimination law’s “severe” requirement for demonstrating a hostile work environment and allow a worker to win his case.
You might not have known that the law potentially permits people to recover compensation for workplace discrimination based on a single utterance of the N-word. This is an example of why it pays to have the right attorney on your side – because that’s someone who does know that information and how to use it to your maximum benefit. For that kind of knowledgeable and persuasive advocacy, count on the diligent race discrimination attorneys at Phillips & Associates. Our attorneys offer many years of experience successfully litigating both state and federal discrimination cases. Contact us online or at (609) 436-9087 today to set up a free and confidential consultation.