Unfortunately, racism is still alive and well in our society. The news
regularly reports stories of nooses on factory floors and crude racist
jokes being circulated through company email systems. Fortunately, Title
VII prohibits employers from discriminating against their employees “because
of” their race or color. That means that employers may not take
your race or color, or your perceived race or color, into consideration
in making employment decisions.
Recently, Alabama State University has been in the news for its offensive
and racially charged conduct toward three black former administrative
employees. The 11th Circuit, which included Georgia, Florida and Alabama
has just ruled that the University must pay a total of $1,078,611 to the
women because of racial and sexual harassment, as well as retaliation.
If you believe that you have been subjected to any form of discrimination
at work, it’s a good idea to consult with a dedicated
Atlanta discrimination attorney right away.
Weatherly v. Ala. State Univ., 11th Cir., No. 12-13414, 9/3/13), three women were routinely subjected
to harassing behavior including the use of the “n word” and
other racial slurs while working in the university’s Office of the
Special Assistant to the President.
Further, after the women complained to human resources, they experienced
A jury determined Dr. John Knight, who held various high-level administrative
positions at ASU and is a member of the state legislature, as well as
a subordinate LaVonette Bartley, were found to have sexually harassed
the women, and that Bartley subjected the women to racial harassment.
According to reports, Bartley allegedly referred to one of the women’s
breasts as “melons” and her buttocks as “hams,”
and Knight told her she was pretty and “he liked his coffee sweet
like [her] and the color of [her] complexion.
Other allegations included the following:
• That Bartley repeatedly used “n word” in the workplace,
sometimes directing her language at them specifically.
One of the women heard Bartley refer to the university’s mass transportation
system as the “n* bus line.” Another heard Bartley say, “talk
to the n* side of the hand because the white side does not want to hear
• Bartley called the woman’s seven-year old son a “n*,”
which caused the boy to crawl under her desk and curl up in a fetal position.
Bartley also allegedly made sexual remarks to and unwanted physical contact
with the women, including putting her breasts on one of them. Knight also
allegedly sexually harassed one woman. Among other things, Knight commented
on her appearance, asked her to dance for him and made other awkward requests
of her. She further alleged that he called her on her birthday and told
her to think of and to tell him about a “special thing” she
wanted for her birthday.
The offensive conduct took place for several years but despite complaints
to human resources, the university failed to act.
Based on the above conduct, the court upheld the jury award. For more information
about sexual or racial discrimination, please contact the dedicated
Atlanta anti-discrimination attorneys at The Buckley Law Firm, LLC for an immediate consultation.