A few years ago, our employees’ rights attorneys asked the question, “Will Tomorrow’s Bosses Discriminate?” It is an important question because we don’t just fight discrimination to stop it today, but to make the world a better place tomorrow. Our lawyers want to stop as many racist, bigoted bosses today while hoping for better future generation bosses and managers tomorrow.
That’s what made the article my brother-in-law sent me last night so disturbing. You can read it here: Lake Catholic High School Lacrosse Player Accused Of Painting Swastika On Leg During Game Against Orange. Orange High School is located in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland and has historically had a decent-sized Jewish population. Even though the headline uses the word “accused,” there is a picture taken by a Jewish student at Orange of the swastika on the player’s leg.
For those who don’t know, the swastika the symbol of the Nazi party who systematically murdered 6 million Jews during World War II – two-thirds of the Jews in Europe when Adolph Hitler rose to power in Germany. Players on the Lake Catholic team were also heard using the word “Kike,” the worst antisemitic slur.
For regular readers of our discrimination blog, you are familiar with an Edmund Burke quote that I am fond of: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
The thing that is most upsetting to me – more than teenagers espousing discriminatory hate speech – is that adults tolerated the conduct and did not immediately correct it.
The referees allowed the player to keep playing and did not eject players for using an antisemitic slur. Maybe the refs can claim that they did not hear the slurs, but once pointed to the painted swastika, they have no excuse.
The Lake Catholic coach let the player board the bus, warm up and play. He did not pull the teen from the game nor suspend him from the team on the spot.
After the game, only when confronted by the news media, Lake Catholic said it condemns antisemitism, but couched its statements to suggests that these were just allegations. In a letter to parents, Lake Catholic President Mark Crowley wrote, “While we are not yet certain about what occurred, please know that we are currently conducting an investigation into the matter in order to gather all the facts.” Um, there is a picture of a swastika on your student’s leg. What more investigation is needed? What further evidence could be gathered would possibly justify putting the emblem of the Nazi party on your leg when playing against Jewish players? There is no context that makes this right. The player should have immediately been expelled. I suspect that we will never find out the results of this alleged “investigation” or the consequences of it.
What would have happened if the player had painted a noose on his leg or the confederate flag? What if players used the n-word or called a Black player “boy” while playing against a school with a larger African American population? And if you are gearing up in your mind to argue that the race discrimination in my example cannot be compared or the use of the n-word is worse than the k-word, you are missing the point. Evil is evil. Wrong is wrong. And hate in your heart is still hatred and discrimination. If you cross the line, there is no point in arguing which discriminatory act crossed the line further. This is not a contest to see who is more discriminated against. This is an effort to stop all discrimination, period, the end.
Indeed, I respectfully submit to you that anyone who lacks outrage because this was discrimination against Jews as opposed to a person of color is independently engaging in selective prejudice and discrimination. Unfortunately, history has heard “they’re only coming for the Jews” before. Again, do nothing and evil wins.
One person stood up to this evil. Rachel Glazer, the 17-year-old photographer who took the photograph, reported it, and most importantly, said to the world, this is wrong. There may yet be hope for our future employers.
Let Rachel be a lesson to employers now. If an employee posts an antisemitic or racist message, symbol, emblem or picture, or if you hear a manager use antisemitic or racial slurs – fire them on the spot. It doesn’t matter who they are or what there reason was, this type of conduct cannot be tolerated. Once an employer knows that this type of discrimination or discriminatory harassment is taking place, that employer has both a legal and ethical obligation to end it. If an employer tolerates such conduct, it is allowing a discriminatory hostile work environment to exist. (Best Law Read: What Is A Hostile Work Environment?; What Qualifies A Hostile Work Environment Under Title VII?). One thing is for certain, if you are an employer and don’t do anything to stop this type of conduct, we’re coming for you and will see you soon.
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The materials and opinions available at the top of this religious discrimination blog and at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. If you are still asking, “How do I stop antisemitism at work?”, “What should I do if I was fired today for opposing religious discrimination,” “Can my boss discriminate against me because I’m (Jewish/Muslim/Mormon/Hindu)?” or “I was fired for my religious beliefs. The answer to “What can I do?”, is to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular religious discrimination or other employment law issue or problem. 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, Brian Spitz, or any individual attorney.