Best Race Discrimination Lawyers Reply: What should I do if I reported racial harassment to HR and nothing is being done about it? Does my company have to stop race discrimination and harassment by coworkers that is creating a hostile work environment? What type of attorney do I need if I was wrongfully fired today in retaliation for reporting race and religious discrimination to management?
Unfortunately, hatred and discrimination seem to be making a comeback as acceptable conduct in this country. Let me be perfectly clear, this is not about the side of the isle that someone stands on; it is about the side of the line between right and wrong that they choose to stand on. Hatred, discrimination, and prejudice is a disease that will spread if left to its own power. It is not enough to not be prejudice or not preach hate. You must stand up against such racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, and/or any other actions of hate that you encounter. Such behavior cannot be overlooked because the person saying it is the best producer in your company, a key manager, the best chef at your restaurant, your childhood or long-time friend, or even a boss’s relative. (See My Co-Workers Are Racist! What Can I Do?; Can I Sue My Co-Worker For Discrimination?). Indeed, our employment discrimination lawyers have even blogged about an employer’s obligation to block customers and nursing home patients from engaging in discriminatory conduct. (see Does My Job Have To Stop Harassment By Customers?; Can My Job Give In To Patients’ No Blacks Demands; Race Discrimination: Customers Are Not Always Right; What Can I Do About Racist Customers?).
After World War II and the Holocaust, a German poet, Martin Niemöller repeated this poem at several events:
First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then, they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then, they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then, they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
While morally, everyone should oppose all forms of discrimination and harassment, both the federal law and Ohio law requires certain people to take action – including employers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Ohio Revised Code § 4112.01, et. al.
Under both these law, employers are prohibited from discriminating against or harassing its employees based on the employee’s race/color, religion, gender/sex, and national origin. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, while Ohio law applies to employers with four or more employees. Likewise, disabled employees and workers over 40 years old are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”), which Ohio providing similar laws. (see R.C. § 4112.02(N), R.C. § 4112.05, and R.C. § 4112.14).
For today’s employment discrimination lawyer’s blog example, I’m branching out beyond any hostile workplace setting; beyond your sexist boss, your racist manager, your bigoted supervisor; beyond even the homophobic owner of your company. This example has nothing to do with an anti-Semitic co-worker or an ageist customer. This example takes place in an apartment complex between tenants. So, why did our employment lawyers pick this as the best blog example? Well, because our attorneys were not only so offended by the nature and severity of the race and religious discrimination and harassment that created such a hostile environment, but even more so because the landlord “did not speak out”. The landlord sat on his hands and did nothing at all. From a legal perspective, this case is relevant because the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeal applied Title VII employment laws and being analogous to the fair housing laws to hold the landlord liable, but more importantly starts by telling us, the facts of this case “tell a story that remains too common today.”
By way of background, Donahue Francis, an African American man, was a tenant at apartments owned by Kings Park Manor, Inc. His next-door neighbor was Raymond Endres – the really bad guy. The facts of the situation are pretty offensive, so be forewarned that we are not filtering what was said and done:
In February 2012, Francis heard Endres say “Jews, fucking Jews,” while standing in front of their apartments. Endres then called Francis, who is black, a “fucking nigger.” On March 3, Endres approached Francis’s open front door and said “damn fucking Jews,” then looked at Francis and said “fucking asshole.” On March 10, Francis overheard Endres and another tenant discussing Francis “in derogatory terms.” The following day, Endres approached Francis’s open front door and repeatedly called him a “nigger,” then stated, “fucking nigger, close your god-darn door, fucking lazy, god-damn fucking nigger.” On March 20, Francis repeatedly called Francis a “nigger” in the parking lot of the apartment complex. By this point, Francis understandably “felt afraid, anxious, and unwelcome.” On May 14, Endres yelled “fuck you” in front of Francis’s front door; the following day, Endres approached Francis, who was leaving his apartment, and said, “keep your door closed you fucking nigger.” On May 22, Endres told Francis, “I oughta kill you, you fucking nigger.” On August 10, Endres called Francis a “fucking nigger” and a “black bastard.” Finally, on September 2, 2012, Endres stood at Francis’s open front door and photographed the interior of Francis’s apartment.
So needless to say, this was a racially hostile environment for anyone to be in let alone a black tenant. KPM, the landlord, did nothing. In fact, the landlord’s argument was plainly that the law does not require landlords to do anything about even such a horribly racially hostile environment. Even after the police got involved, the landlord did nothing and Endres’s conduct persisted. It got so bad that Endres was arrested for aggravated harassment. Yet, the landlord did nothing. Indeed, the landlord let Endres live there for almost another year until his lease expired.
As discussed earlier, the Second District Court of Appeals first connected the Fair Housing Act to the employment discrimination laws under Title VII: “we note how closely § 3604(b)’s broad language tracks the language of Title VII, which, together with the FHA, forms part of the backbone of the coordinated congressional ‘scheme of federal civil rights laws enacted to end discrimination …The FHA and Title VII are part of a coordinated scheme of federal civil rights laws enacted to end discrimination. … Of course, the language in Title VII bans both pre- and post-hiring discrimination (including on-the-job racial harassment).” Based on this comparison, the court held that landlords can be held liable for racial harassment during tenancy if the landlord knowing allows it to occur: “With the objective of building a racially integrated society in mind, it would make no sense for Congress to require landlords to rent homes without regard to race but then permit them to harass tenants or turn a blind eye when tenants are harassed in their homes because of race.”
Among other arguments, the landlord argued that even if a hostile housing environment claim were cognizable under the FHA, Francis was required to show the landlord engaged in intentional discriminatory acts against him. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected this argument, holding:
To establish a violation of the FHA, a plaintiff need not show discriminatory intent but need only prove that the challenged practice has a discriminatory effect. … [A] violation … may be established not only by proof of discriminatory intent, but also by a showing of significant discriminatory effect … Second, the KPM Defendants’ argument misunderstands the difference between the harassing acts of a landlord or its agent and the harassing acts of a third party over which the landlord has a real measure of control. Take, for example, the somewhat analogous context involving a hostile work environment claim under Title VII. Faced with such a claim, we have not required a showing of direct intentional discrimination by the employer before imposing liability. Instead, we have premised an employer’s liability on the employer’s actual or constructive knowledge of the non-supervisory employee’s harassment and the employer’s subsequent failure to act.
But, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit did not stop there. Instead, it held that there were in fact sufficient allegation of intentional conduct by the landlord to establish a claim of race discrimination. Specifically, Francis has alleged that the landlord had the authority to end bad conduct of tenants; had ended such conduct in the past when the situation did not involve race; but, despite actual knowledge of Endres’s criminal racial harassment of Francis intentionally allowed it to continue because it involved race. This is important and applies to the employment setting as well. An employer must exercise its policies, rules, and procedures equally across all protected classes (race/color, religion, gender/sex, national origin, age, disability, LGBTQ+ status). An employer cannot only investigate threats against men but ignore threats against women. A boss cannot turn a blind eye to racial harassment if the company has a policy and history of taking statements and issuing discipline in instances of other harassment.
In the end, this all comes back to one key point, if you encounter race or any other type of discrimination, try to put an end to whether you are legally required to or not. And, if you are an employer that refuses to get involved, just know that our employment discrimination lawyers will be waiting to hold you accountable.
If you feel that you are being discriminated based on your race, whatever race that may be, then call the right attorney. Race discrimination includes being harassed, fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, and denied wages. When you call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation, you will meet with a race discrimination lawyer from The Spitz Law Firm who will help you determine the best way to pursue your legal claims. Call our office at 866-797-6040.
The materials available at the top of this race discrimination page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking: “Can I sue my company for racist comments and harassment by a coworker”, “I’m being discriminated against because I’m black”, “my supervisor is discriminating against black workers by making us do more work than white employees; can I sue for race discrimination” or “How do I sue for wrongful termination if I was fired today?” your best option is to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to race discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of The Spitz Law Firm, attorney Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.