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Monday, April 18, 2022

NJ Employment Attorney, Black Employee - What’s in a Name? Racist Names in the Workplace

Racial equilibrium in the US workplace is erroneously assumed by many to be the current state of societal norms. Yet unbelievable as it seems to many non-Blacks, severe racist names including the use of the N-Word, is still far too common in some American workplaces. The extensive absence of open and honest recognition regarding widespread systemic racism and individual bigotry contributes to the willing suspension of disbelief that racist epithets are still being uttered in some American workplaces.

What’s in a Name?

The connotation of the racist name itself can materially contribute to the remark's severity and it’s psychological effect. When acts of racial epithets occur in one’s workplace, they are especially egregious and capable of engendering a severe impact.

What’s in a Name?

Sixty years after the Civil Rights Movement, blatant and egregious racial harassment at times including the N-word still exists in some sectors and workplaces in the US. A single racial epithet or uttered racist name that is sufficiently severe can create a hostile work environment. When a work environment turns hostile due to racist name calling, it can have a debilitating effect on the person and demoralization in the workplace. This demoralization may extend beyond the workplace and into one’s home life. This can be particularly true if the employee has worked a number of years for the employer and had begun to feel safe in that particular environment.

What’s in a Name?  Documentation and Reporting

An employee who is called a racist name at work should immediately take steps to document these facts every time they arise and report it to HR in writing, hopefully so the employer will take remedial measures. Additionally, it will assist the employee as to the production of evidence if he subsequently wants to file a lawsuit.

The employee should report the racist name calling and other harassment in writing to HR also for the reason that the employer may escape legal liability if the employer, while defending on a lawsuit, can subsequently prove that the employer had no knowledge of the racist name calling or racial harassment.  

What’s in a Name? Don’t Make Assumptions

The employee therefore should maintain a personal log with the date, the circumstances, the names of the persons present, and what words were spoken, etc. This helps for litigation purposes should he later decide to file a lawsuit. Additionally, it is helpful to him due to the fact that this country has never had an open and honest dialogue about systemic and individual racism, that maintaining a personal log will assist him in his reporting the acts to management.

Don’t make assumptions that management will automatically believe in the veracity of the complaints. Management is generally not comprised of Black-majority personnel and has no direct experience of being the personal target of racism. A Black employee who complains about racism to management may be met with Human Resources’ and management’s disbelief,  and certitude of their own belief that this could not possibly be happening in their workplace.

What’s in a Name?

When a Black employee plaintiff files a lawsuit alleging racial harassment under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J. Stat. Ann. §§ 10:5-1 et al., among other factors to be demonstrated, he must demonstrate:

1. that the defendant's conduct would not have occurred but for the plaintiff’s race; and               

2. that the conduct was severe or pervasive enough to make a reasonable Black person believe that the conditions of employment are altered and the working environment is hostile or abusive.

What You Can do

I have successfully represented employees who were racially harassed and discriminated against and called the N-word and was successful in recovering six figure settlement moneys for them. If you are experiencing race harassment or discrimination in the workplace, you should contact this office immediately for a free consultation.

I am an aggressive and compassionate employment law attorney who is experienced in successfully representing persons who were subjected to workplace discrimination. If you think you have been retaliated against for complaining about or reporting to your employer what you believe are your employer’s illegal practices or a racially hostile work environment, it is essential for you to contact an experienced, competent and successful race discrimination attorney who will be aggressive about enforcing your rights as soon as possible.

If you quit your job, you may lose right to prevail in a lawsuit.

In many instances of discrimination, if you quit your job, you may lose right to prevail in a lawsuit unless you first take certain legally required measures to preserve your job while you are still employed. If you are thinking of quitting, or think you will be fired, you should contact this office immediately to discuss your options in the safest way for you.

If you are being subjected to such unlawful workplace discrimination or retaliation, contact Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law today for a free consultation. I accept whistleblower and discrimination cases from all over New Jersey.

New Jersey employment attorney, Hope A. Lang, Attorney at Law serves clients throughout the state, including Bergen, Middlesex, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth, Ocean, Union, Camden, Passaic, and Morris Counties with locations in Southern, Central, Western and Northern NJ to meet with clients.



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