Nooses And the N-Word: Another Outrageous Workplace Racial Harassment Suit

Nooses and the N-word remain front and center in workplace racial harassment suits.  A shocking new racial harassment suit was just filed by the EEOC against a Minnesota construction company on behalf of  two African American employees.


Neither the EEOC nor juries like nooses or the N-word in the workplace, yet as I said on September 28, 2012 “It is extraordinary that the ‘N-word’ and the noose keep reappearing in lawsuits claiming a racially harassing workplace.”

The last time I posted about nooses in the workplace the title was “Will The N-Word And Nooses Ever Stop? Maybe When The Civil War finally Ends.

I was hardly joking.

I wrote previously that:

“You may have observed that when it comes to the state of race relations, the Civil War seems to have  never ended, despite Grant and Lee’s friendly sit-down at Appomattox in 1865.  Before we can start the necessary dialogue to finally end the 150-year old Civil War and its toxic precursors, we have to get past the coming election, the rhetoric of which threatens to spiral out of control, along with the magnitude of the hate which has been revealed.”


In this latest suit, the EEOC alleged that “the harassment included the [white] supervisor making racially derogatory comments to [two African-American employees] including calling them ‘n—-r.’  The supervisor told [the two employees] that he had a gun, and made threats that he could ‘shoot a n—-r a mile away.’ The supervisor made a noose out of electrical wire and threated to hang [them].”

Other supervisors witnessed these events, and one of the employees complained to another supervisor and the company’s safety director.

Nothing was done.

This is Minnesota we are talking about, not the Jim Crow south!

This new case comes on the heels of a recent similar case involving the N-word.  And back in 2012 I noted that the EEOC announced a $500,000 settlement with an Atlanta manufacturer to settle a racially hostile work environment lawsuit which alleged that graffiti and racial epithets were directed at African-American employees, including:  “KKK,” swastikas, Confederate flags, “white power” and “die, n—-r, die.”

Hangman’s nooses were also displayed [naturally], and one employee found one at his work station.


Same as it ever was.

This could be 1840; or 1880; or 1920; or …

The workplace, being a microcosm of the real world, is it any wonder that it echoes the politically-roiling waters of the present day American landscape?

Takeaway:  The EEOC regional attorney said that “Racial discrimination and harassment are always unconscionable and illegal, but a situation where African-Americans are called racial slurs and threatened with a noose and gun is utterly shocking and unacceptable in the 21st century.”

Utterly shocking and unacceptable — until you realize that aside from the military battles, the Civil War has never really ended.




Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 157 other subscribers
Posted in

Richard Cohen

Richard B. Cohen is a partner in the New York City office of FisherBroyles, LLP, a national law firm. Richard Cohen has litigated and arbitrated complex corporate, commercial and employment disputes for more than 35 years, and is a trusted advisor to business owners and in-house counsel both in the United States and internationally. His clients have included Fortune 100 companies, domestic and foreign commercial and investment banks, Pacific-rim corporations and real estate development companies, as well as start-up businesses throughout the United States. Email Richard at [email protected]