Supreme Court Overrules Racial Discrimination Ruling

Supreme Court Overrules Racial Discrimination Ruling

The United States Supreme Court has overturned an appeals court ruling stating that the use of the word “boy” to refer to an African American employee is not sufficient evidence of racial discrimination in the workplace. 

A jury initially awarded two African American men, Anthony Ash and John Hithon, $1.75 million in damages for the disparaging comments of their manager at Tyson Foods store.  Ash and Hithon, long time employees of the grocery store were passed up upon several occasions for promotions that were taken by new Caucasian employees and called “boy” on several occasion by their visiting manager, Tom Hatley.

 Despite evidence from the case, the presiding judge overturned the jury’s decision to award the two men damages, leading to the intervention of the Supreme Court.

In their appeal, the men alongside with attorney Eric Schnapper of University of Washington argued that the term “boy” is offensive and is an evident racial slur.  “This form of verbal abuse has its origins in the slave era,” Schnapper stated in the appeal. 

The defense, arguing on behalf of Tyson Foods alleged the “manager was rude and curt to all employees-white and black-but had never used racial epithets.”  This was not enough to convince the Supreme Court that 1964 civil rights law was not violated in this case. 

The overturning by the Supreme Court, which included new Justice Samuel Alito, is a defeat for Tyson Foods, who will now be subject to pay Ash and Hithon $1.75 million each. 

The case will return to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court in Atlanta, Georgia.

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