Some Posts Just Write Themselves

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 10:23 am

I was listening to Morning Edition this morning (the late evening edition of Morning Edition is hard to come by) when I heard an article about the Supreme Court’s decision to hear a case regarding so-called “retaliation” lawsuits directed against companies who fire employees for complaining about racial discrimination. The major case cited in this hearing revolves around the former assistant manager of a restaurant who is suing under Section 1981 of the 1866 Civil Rights Act.

This is actually a sort of in-spirit revisiting of a previous ruling by the Supremes, which had already determined in past hearings that teachers and coaches could file suit for damages if fired for pointing out inequities in facilities provided for male and female students. The tone of the initial ruling would seem to apply in this situation as well, but that case was pursued under Title IX, which deals specifically with male-female inequities in education. The restaurant is protesting the legality of such a lawsuit, claiming that provisions for retaliatory damages are not explicitly written into the relevant statutes.

The complainant in the restaurant case was fired on what he alleges to be false charges that he left a safe open. He attests that in fact he was discharged for complaining to upper management about a manager making blatantly racist remarks in reference to both staff and customers, ultimately culminating in the firing of a long-time African American server with a stellar employment record.

This promises to be an interesting legal battle. Can an individual seek retaliatory damages against an employer because (s)he was fired for reporting racial discrimination? Is reporting Civil Rights violations afforded similar protection under current Civil Rights law as experiencing said violations? If not, should it be? And if it should, must the law be explicitly rewritten to accommodate the concept of suing for damages, or does the law as written offer sufficient precedent to allow for same?

But of course, I probably wouldn’t be writing about this if there weren’t a smart-ass punch line to be had, and here it is:

All in all, shouldn’t the plaintiff known what he was in for when he started working for—ahem—Cracker Barrel?

I am so sorry….I just couldn’t resist.

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