Friday, October 13, 2006

In 5-5 Split, Fourth Circuit Denies En Banc Review of Black Monkeys Case

By reporting to your boss that one co-worker called African-Americans "black monkeys" and "black apes," are you opposing discrimination in the workplace? (An employer cannot retaliate against an employee for opposing workplace discrimination.) Two Fourth Circuit judges (out of a three judge panel) had ruled that reporting a single racist comment is not sufficient opposition to be entitled to Title VII's anti-retaliation provision. See here, here, and here.

Now, by a vote of 5 to 5, the full Fourth Circuit denied en banc review of Jordan v. Alternative Resources Corp. En banc review (that is: review by all of the judges on the court) requires a majority vote. As a result, employers in Maryland are free to fire employees who complain that a co-worker made a racially derogatory remark.

I imagine this case is headed to the United States Supreme Court.

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