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Race Discrimination Attorneys Best Answers: How do I prove I was wrongfully fired? What should I do if I’m being racially harassed and discriminated at my job? What can I do if my company will not stop race discrimination and harassment at work?

“Constructive discharge” is an employment law term that satisfies the third element of wrongful termination claim in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it unlawful for employers to discriminate in the employment context based on race/color, religion, gender/sex (including pregnancy and LGBTQ+ status), national origin, age, and disability. In the absence of direct evidence, the four elements needed to establish a claim for wrongful termination in violation of Title VII are: (1) the employee was a member of one of the above protected classes; (2) the employee was qualified for the position; (3) the employee was fired; and (4) either the employee was replaced by someone outside the protected class or members outside the protected class were treated move favorably. “Constructive discharge occurs when the employer by its illegal discriminatory acts has made working conditions so difficult that a reasonable person in the employee’s position would feel compelled to resign. Essentially, a plaintiff must show that she had no other choice but to quit. The conditions of employment must be objectively intolerable; the plaintiff’s subjective views of the situation are irrelevant.” Sanchez v. Denver Public Schools, 164 F.3d 527, 534 (10th Cir. 1998). Stated similarly, an employee is constructively discharged when he or she can subjectively no longer be able to tolerate a hostile work environment base on his or her protected class and quits as a result. (See What Is A Hostile Work Environment?; Can I Sue My Employer For Discrimination Even If I Already Quit My Job? I Need The Best Wrongful Termination Lawyer).

Our employment lawyers recommend reporting and opposing the hostile work environment, preferably in writing, before quitting. This will be important evidence to show a jury why you had no choice but to quit after it became clear that the hostile work environment would not be corrected.  If you have not quit, our employment law attorneys help our clients draft both the opposition reports to discrimination and harassment as well as the resignation letters. There are a lot of mistakes in resignation letters that can kill a claim for constructive discharge, such as giving two weeks’ notice. That is why it is critical to involve the best employment lawyers dedicated to helping employees as you can find.

Unfortunately, way too many African American workers have been through this situation. Black Lives Matter movement started in 2013 in response to the acquittal George Zimmerman, who fatally shot of Trayvon Martin. Since then, the Black Lives Matter movement has faced the killings of many black men at that hand of White police officers. One of the best ways to curtail this type of race/color discrimination is to root racist police officers out of all police departments and provide those departments with diverse voices in leadership. A recent employment discrimination case filed in Wyoming shows us why.

Jamin Johnson, who was the only Black officer in that sheriff’s department, started on the force at about the same time as Christian Handley, who is White. Per the lawsuit, Handley was more quickly promoted despite overt racist conduct, which higher ranking officers were plainly aware of. The lawsuit reports as one example that as Handley drove past Johnson’s house, he yelled racial slurs, including the N-word, toward Johnson, his wife, and young children, who were coming out of the house. The police department overlooked this incident because “Handley later apologized for having not realized that Mr. Johnson’s family was present.” So, in essence the police department employer found the only thing wrong was that such vile racism was done in the presence of his family but would have otherwise been acceptable if it had just been directed at a black officer! This is insanely offensive.

Having been emboldened by the department’s metaphorical shoulder shrug about one of its officer’s use of the N-word, Handley continued to direct racial slurs at not only to Johnson but to Black members of the community, including four students from the University of Wyoming during a traffic stop.

Despite his overt racism and racist harassment, the sheriff’s office still promoted up the ranks in the and gave him “trusted voice” in personnel decisions, per the lawsuit. Indeed, shortly after his promotion to patrol sergeant, Handley filed a performance review of Johnson that charged him of multiple instances of misconduct over the prior year, which shows that Handley had been taking notes on Johnson and “decided to unleash pent-up racism” after becoming his boss, according to the lawsuit. Handley did not immediately write up any other fellow White officers upon his promotion.

As this conduct continued, the sheriff’s office eventually gave Johnson an ultimatum –  accept a suspension and demotion to patrol deputy or leave the sheriff’s office. Johnson chose the latter. Again, employment lawyers call this a constructive discharge.

Then in 2020, Sheriff Dave O’Malley resigned, leaving the top spot vacant. Facing community backlash from other instances of racism, the government appointed Aaron Appelhans’ as Wyoming’s first Black sheriff. Appelhans immediately started an internal investigation, which took two months and found that despite Handley’s “widespread and well-known” racism, he was emboldened to engage in racist acts as a result of getting preferential treatment for promotions ahead of the more-experienced Johnson. As a result of the investigation, Appelhans fired Handley.

While we can all say good riddance to Handley, this does not go far enough in the humble opinion of this employment discrimination lawyer. The best thing that should have happened was to clean house of all the higher-ranking officers that observed, heard, or in any way tolerated this racially hostile work environment. Fire anyone who had a hand in promoting Handley. Fire anyone that ever excused his conduct as being anything other than unacceptable in any context whatsoever. The people are supposed to be law enforcement. We should be able to trust when they are confronted with unlawful conduct, they will act to make it right.

If you feel that you are being discriminated at your place of employment because of 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 Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm who will help you determine the best way to pursue your legal claims for racially hostile work environment, wrongful termination or constructive discharge. Our Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Youngstown and Detroit lawyers are here to fight for your employment rights.


The information available at the top of this racial discrimination page and on this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice about your job. If you are still asking: “What should I do if I was fired today because I’m Black”, “I’m being harassed at work by racial slurs and unfavorable treatment,”  “my boss is a racist”, or “How do I sue my employer for wrongful termination”, 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.

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