Court Battles

Supreme Court declines to hear case centered on N-word in workplace

Greg Nash

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a case that alleged use of a racial slur in the workplace was severe enough to constitute a hostile work environment.

The suit was one of several that the Supreme Court rejected Monday and, as usual, it did not provide comment on the decision.

The case involved was filed by a Black operating room aide who alleged the Dallas, Texas, hospital where he worked was “rife with racial discrimination.”

Robert Collier alleged in his suit, filed in January, that he experienced racism during the seven years he worked at Parkland Health & Hospital System until he was fired in 2016. During his time there, he said he reported to management multiple times that Black employees were treated worse than others.

The racial slur was carved into a hospital elevator and swastikas painted on a storage room that were left uncovered for almost two years, according to Collier’s petition. He also alleged that white nurses would refer to Black workers as “boy.”

“We are very disappointed that Robert Collier will never have his day in court,” Brian Wolfman, attorney for Collier and a professor at Georgetown Law, said in a statement to The Hill. “Parkland Hospital’s management knew about all of these things because Robert Collier complained about them, yet the hospital did nothing about it. Yet, according to the hospital and the Fifth Circuit, Parkland’s conduct was perfectly legal.”

“Though the violation of Mr. Collier’s rights may go unremedied, we believe that our petition has created momentum for change, for bringing the law in line with Title VII and with the principle that no one should have to endure a hostile work environment like the one that Mr. Collier was subjected to,” Wolfman added.

Attorneys for the Parkland hospital did not immediately respond to inquiries from The Hill.

The Associated Press reported that the hospital’s lawyers urged the court to not take the case, telling the news outlet in a statement that there was no evidence “that any Parkland employee was responsible for the alleged graffiti or that it was directed specifically at Mr. Collier.”

The AP notes that Parkland is the hospital where former President Kennedy was taken after he was shot during a presidential motorcade going through Dallas in 1963.

–Updated at 3:41 a.m.

Tags Dallas hostile workplace N-word Nazi symbolism Supreme Court Swastika Texas

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