Race discrimination issue?
UPDATED: May 26, 2009
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Race discrimination issue?
I have been made the joke of little comments throughout the last few years. Ive told people that thats a lawsuit waiting to happen but to no avail. Im a high ranking officer and feel compelled to go along with it since it occassionally comes from ranks higher than mine. Last year, at our Christmas party, I was given a certificate as “Minority of the Year”. It was in front of the whole office. I didnt want to say anything because the Sheriff signed it. What should I do? I also have witnesses who have heard comments about my race.
Asked on May 26, 2009 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia
B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 13 years ago | Contributor
If you're not comfortable with it -- and it certainly sounds as if you've had enough - it's time to put a stop to it.
One way of proving discrimination is through what's called a "hostile work environment." This can be proved if there are very offensive remarks, or a pervasive practice of "minor" insults and slurs, with more offensive remarks needing less repetition to satisfy the requirment. It's interesting that you're in a sheriff's office; one case that's well known to New Jersey lawyers in this field was won against a sheriff who told a young African-American officer that in her fatigues she looked like a "jungle bunny," and that single remark allowed her to win. The fact that it did come from a very high ranking officer had quite a bit to do with the result -- so I hope you've saved that certificate, it could be absolutely devastating evidence in your favor.
It is also illegal discrimination to retaliate against you for complaining about this.
You should see an attorney who specializes in employment discrimination cases, for an evaluation of the unique facts of your case. These lawsuits are often difficult, nasty and drawn-out, but the damages can easily run to seven figures. More importantly, you should not have to tolerate this, especially in a law enforcement environment. One place to look for a lawyer who can help you is our website, http://attorneypages.com
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