Monday, April 16, 2007
In a number of posts last year, we discussed a disturbing case in which the Fourth Circuit upheld the termination of an employee for reporting a racial epithet to his employer:
[T]he case concerned an employee complaining to his supervisors about being called an extremely ugly racial [epithet] at work. After he complained, his work life became difficult and he was eventually fired.
A 2-1 divided panel of the 4th Circuit found that the plaintiff did not engage in protected activity for purposes of Title VII's anti-retaliation provisions. A vigorous dissent argued that the court's reasoning placed the employee in a Catch-22 by placing "employees like Jordan in an untenable position, requiring them to report racially hostile conduct, but leaving them entirely at the employer’s mercy when they do so."
Later, the Fourth Circuit vacated its original position, but
reissued its opinion in Jordan v. Alternative Resources Corp., No. 05-1485 (4th Cir., Aug. 14, 2006) (on rehearing), and again found that the employee was not protected in reporting the offensive conduct.
The Supreme Court has today denied review of the case in its Order list and thus, we arrive at an unfortunate ending to an unfortunate case.