There exists only one workplace environment in which a white employee can keep his job after yelling the following at a group of African-American employees.
- “Hey, did you bring enough KFC for everyone?”
- “Go back to Africa, you bunch of f***ing losers.”
- “Hey anybody smell that? I smell fried chicken and watermelon.”
- Courts show deference to decisions of administrative agencies, and the NLRB found that Cooper Tire unlawfully terminated the picketer.
- The picketer’s comments, while racist and offensive, were not accompanied by threats or violence.
- The offensive words were “part of a package of verbal barbs thrown out during a picket line exchange” or were of a “message dealing with the morals and character of crossovers generally,” and did not target a specific replacement worker.
No employer in America is or can be required to employ a racial bigot. Indeed, … the court’s requiring of the petitioner to do so here, is tantamount to requiring that Cooper Tire violate federal anti-discrimination and harassment laws …. Engaging in union organizing or efforts to vindicate protected labor activity does not insulate the volatility and heinous nature of racist, or sexist, remarks. … Discriminatory and degrading stereotypes are not legitimate weapons in economic disputes carried out on the picket line.
This post originally appeared on the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog, and was written by Jon Hyman, Partner, Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis. Jon can be reached at via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, via telephone at 216-831-0042, on LinkedIn, and on Twitter.