Supreme Court Clarifies Standards in Promotion Discrimination Cases
This isn't the most consequential Supreme Court news of the day, but it's good to see the Court admonish the Eleventh Circuit for its dismissive view of the evidence of discrimination presented in a lawsuit against Tyson Foods. Two African American superintendents at Tyson's poultry plant were denied promotions. Ash won at trial, but the district court took the victory away, concluding that he failed to prove that the denial was discriminatory.
Ash relied in part on evidence that the plant manager referred to the two men as "boy." That wasn't enough to prove a discriminatory animus, the Eleventh Circuit said, because "[w]hile the use of 'boy' when modified by a racial classification like 'black' or 'white' is evidence of discriminatory intent, the use of 'boy' alone is not evidence of discrimination." The Supreme Court concluded that juries need not be so blind to the history of racially derogatory language.
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