An African American was allowed to continue her race discrimination lawsuit,
which also included claims of harassment and retaliation based on a legal
theory called “cat’s paw”. The cat’s paw theory
includes those situations where a co-worker, supervisor or other employee
influences or a boss to fire someone or take other negative employment
actions against a worker. This may be something like making negative statements
on their personnel files or giving bad employment reviews. When these
actions are racially motivated and influence an employer to take negative
action, it may be possible to bring a racial discrimination case against
the company based on the “cat’s paw theory.” This differs
from traditional race discrimination cases where an employer takes discriminatory
actions directly against employees.
If you have questions about race discrimination or believe that you have
been subjected to discrimination, harassment or retaliation based on your
race, it’s important to consult with an experienced
Atlanta race discrimination lawyer right away.
King v. Volunteers of Am., Sonja D. King brought a race discrimination case under Title VII of the
1964 Civil Right Act against a group home in Alabama asserting that her
supervisor – Teresa Stephenson – acted with bias in manipulating
the chief executive officer – Victor Tucker – to fire her.
Here, King presented evidence that Stephenson engaged in the following
actions designed to get King fired. These included:
• Making outrageous, daily statements derogating African-American
employees such as:
– “Black people have a nasty attitude; they’re nasty;
– She was not “going to hire any black dudes here because
they are drug dealers and might damage the clients”
– “Old black women are good for nothing”
• Telling another employee that she would engineer King’s discharge;
• Making up events to get King reprimanded;
• Failing to properly train and supervise African American employees,
and forcing black workers-including King-to write reports falsely accusing
their black colleagues of misconduct;
• Telling others that the Tucker would “rubber-stamp”
her decisions and recommendations.
Although the lower court dismissed the charges, the appeals court reversed
noting the all of the written reprimands were signed by the Stephenson,
including some only her. Also in the letter firing King, the CEO cited
these reprimands as the motivating factor behind the termination.
This case is particularly disturbing given the level of discrimination.
The lawsuit also alleges that just days after King complained to the CEO
about Stephenson’s actions, she began receiving reprimands based
on bogus information. Employees then informed her that Stephenson had
forced them to come up with complaints against her. Stephenson subsequently
warned employees during a staff meeting that they better not make complaints
if they want to keep their jobs. Stephenson also told others she was going
to “get King back” for complaining about her.
It is unfortunate that this level of discrimination continues to exist
in the work place. Laws have been created to protect workers from being
treated this way. We can help. Please contact the top
Georgia race discrimination lawyers at The Buckley Law Firm, LLC if you suffer any type of harassment, bias
or discrimination based on your race for an immediate consultation.