Despite significant advances,
race discrimination continues to be a problem at many workplaces. A recent case has determined
that an employee who suffered verbal assaults such as being called the
“n word” by his boss can proceed with his claim for a hostile
Taylor v. Bob-Rohr-Indy Motors, an African American car salesman – Johnny Taylor – endured
pushing and disrespectful comments from his sales manager, James Mueller.
Here, a series of incidents occurred over several weeks including Mueller
using a disrespectful tone when asking for assistance, telling Taylor
he was “not a man of his word” when he failed to bring in
food for a salespersons’ lunch, and punching Taylor in the shoulder
and stated that “you think we owe y’all people something.”
Despite the offensive nature of these comments and actions, Taylor failed
to submit a written report to his supervisor. Taylor subsequently went
to the EEOC to find out about filing charges based on religion and disability,
but not race.
Mueller continued to taunt Taylor, with Taylor becoming angry and threatening
Mueller after calling he called him the “n word” and said,
don’t you be standing in front of me.” After being sent home
for the weekend, Taylor filed an EEOC claim based on race harassment.
The court determined that the alleged actions constituted sufficient evidence
to survive summary judgment, and allowed Taylor’s claim to proceed.
The court reasoned that despite conflicting testimony, a genuine issue
of fact existed whether Taylor was subjected to derogatory comments and
racial slurs. Further, no evidence suggested that Taylor welcomed or participated
in the use of the racially charged words. As such, a reasonable jury could
find that the language was unwelcome and based on his race.
The court was also not persuaded by Indy Motors argument that Taylor was
not bothered by the comments as evidenced by his failure to complain in
writing. The Seventh Circuit has recognized that the use of racial epithets
by a supervisor impacts a worker’s environment severely and verbal
complaints may be used evidence of the pervasiveness and severity of the
Unfortunately, many employees still face race discrimination and racial
slurs while at work. Title VII was enacted to prohibit employers from
discrimination against their employees because of your color. If you or
someone you know has been the victim of race or color discrimination, please
contact The Buckley Law Firm, LLC to find out how we can help.