KKK Hood Used To Intimidate Black Employee

Besides words and phrases used to describe older workers, I also collect cases in which the N-word and/or nooses are used to create a hostile workplace to remind readers – and myself – that these cases have not ended, and that racism in the workplace has not ended.

The latest is a lawsuit filed by the EEOC which alleges that a black employee at a Texas company “reported that his coworkers had used a white hood – evocative of the type used by the Ku Klux Klan – to intimidate, ridicule and insult him.”

The company allegedly took swift action – it fired the black employee.  That’s referred to as “retaliation,” and it’s illegal.

As I have posted before, the politically-roiling waters of the present American landscape is echoed – or paralleled – in the cases which come before the EEOC.  The workplace is, after all, a microcosm of the real world.

The EEOC in December sued a North Carolina structural steel erection services company for a racially hostile work environment.  Guess the nature of the allegations?  It was alleged that as soon as the African American employee began working, his white foreman and some co-workers called him the “N-word” and other racial epithets on an almost daily basis, made racial jokes, and more than once physically threatened him.

Another case involving the N-word was filed by the EEOC last Fall.

Takeaway:  I said years ago that “It is extraordinary that the ‘N-word’ and the noose keep reappearing in lawsuits claiming a racially harassing workplace.”  And now its a KKK hood.  Employers must be in the vanguard in ensuring that the workplace is a “level playing field,” as the law demands.  No harassment, no slurs, no epithets — and no nooses or hoods.  And certainly no retaliation against those complaining about these practices.


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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]