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Historic Armstrong v. Whirlpool: White man bites dog

"A lot of whites may not realize that they have a right to work in an environment that is free of racial hostility." -- David Sanford, plaintiff's attorney, Armstrong v. Whirlpool.

One month ago, about the time Hurricane Katrina tore through historic Basin Street, the Voting Rights Act turned 40. I've been sick at heart since, watching America reveal our (un)buried child -- by which I mean the nation's need to grapple with the issue of race, beginning with our phobias.

Then today, in a true TGIF moment, I came across the fascinating story of Armstrong v. Whirlpool, which is apparently also a legal first. In "Whirlpool: Race Discrimination Lawsuit With a Rare Twist," Reporter Dee McAree, writing for The National Law Journal (yes an ALM mag), begins:

"In a rare move, lawyers suing Whirlpool Corp. over allegations of race discrimination have amended the complaint to combine white and African-American defendants.

"Although whites are not the primary targets of the alleged racial abuse at the Whirlpool plant in LaVergne, Tenn., they allege that they have been subjected to a hostile work environment where supervisors allowed racial epithets and offensive graffiti to run rampant. Armstrong v. Whirlpool, No. 3-03-1250 (M.D. Tenn.).

"The plaintiffs lawyers at the Washington office of Sanford, Wittels & Heisler say that this is the first example they can find where whites and African-Americans have been joined in a lawsuit alleging racial bias.

More here on how whites who originally came forward to support their African-American colleagues are now filing lawsuits of their own. Any estimates of the repercussions of this case from the employee and employer's attorneys in the crowd?

Posted by Laurel Newby on September 30, 2005 at 03:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

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