The N-Word in the Workplace

Two lawyers who represent employees have responded to our request for comments made in our recent post entitled “Zero Tolerance” And “Broken Windows?”

And for the most part they are not that keen on the idea of a “zero tolerance” policy, for reasons which they describe below.  But they rightly note that the issues raised

“Zero Tolerance” – is it an ambiguous term, we asked recently?   Is it a synonym for “non-thinking,” as one reader suggested?

Should it be reserved for serious violations?   Does “one size not fit all?”

New Racial Harassment Case

On October 4th, we posted about a new EEOC Title VII race and national origin harassment lawsuit

The EEOC has just sued a major transportation and distribution services provider from New Jersey for harassment based on race and national origin under Title VII.

This comes after a week of many such racial harassment suits filed by the EEOC.

In this case the EEOC accused company management of using “racial language” such as  

Just when we thought that maybe the N-word — just maybe — had been consigned to the dustbin of employment law history, three new EEOC lawsuits were filed this week in which this word was used against black employees.  See yesterday’s post for a description of the first such suit, and one court’s holding that

Last June a federal court held that the single use of the “N-word” was not enough to create a hostile workplace.  This is not the first court to so hold — but not every court agrees.

racism concept : globe, concept of Racism

A black replacement janitor claimed that he was subjected to race-based harassment by co-workers who called him “boy,” “black

“How do we square these two rulings”?  

We asked this question on May 15th apropos a new decision from a three-judge federal appeals court panel sitting in Virginia which ruled that an employee’s calling the African-American plaintiff a “porch monkey” on two occasions did not constitute a hostile work environment.   After all, it was

On May 28th we did a post entitled “Does One N-Word, One Sexual Assault, Plus Four Other Harassing Incidents In “Eleven Days At Most” Create a Hostile Work Environment?”   We discussed a number of court cases which we found difficult to reconcile, each of which seemingly revolved around the quantum of incidents necessary to

How much is enough?

On May 15th we wrote that the test for a hostile work environment is, in sum, that harassing acts or epithets must either be severe or pervasive, and we asked “how many times an employee must endure a crude and offensive racial or other epithet for the situation to become a

Our recent post asked “how many times an employee must endure a crude and offensive racial or other epithet for the situation to become a hostile work environment?”   We also asked “Is management simply unaware or oblivious, or is the workplace environment top-down, and employees simply conduct themselves in accordance with what they feel