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Ebony and Irony: Walker v. Mueller Industries and the case of Billy Ray Johnson

It's a shame that Dennis Walker's legal team didn't make a better case in Walker v. Mueller Industries, Inc. Heaven knows we need it, as The Volokh Conspiracy's Orin Kerr reminded me last week.

In Derivative Discrimination Claim Still Not There on the 7th Circuit, Mike Fox writes about a (white) union steward, Dennis Walker, who complained to a warehouse manager at Mueller Industries Inc. about the company's treatment of its black workers, which included "co-workers singing racially derogatory songs," references to African Americans as "monkeys," and graffiti including "N-I-G-A" written throughout the warehouse.

Walker lost. Why? Fox writes, 

"Walker, although white, was offended by the conduct. When it was not remedied, and he thought he was being retaliated against, he sued claiming both discrimination and retaliation. Walker's discrimination claim was not based on his own race, but was more a bystander claim. As the Court noted, while he like any enlightened employee was offended, his claim for derivative discrimination failed because he:

'[M]ade no attempt to establish that the conduct was so offensive to him as a third party as to render the workplace hostile not only for him but for any reasonable employee who likewise was a bystander rather than a target of the harassment.'"

Posted by Product Team on May 16, 2005 at 03:11 PM | Permalink | TrackBack (0)


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