Recently, our employment discrimination attorneys have blogged about the fact that employees can be legally fired for doing bad things. (Best Law Read: At-Will Employment Means You Can Be Fired For Being A Karen Off The Clock; Yes, It Is Legal To Fire Men Who Sexually Harass Women). Well, we have another example by way of Koslosky v. American Airlines, Inc., No. 20-2081, 2022 WL 4481537, at *1 (3d Cir. Sept. 27, 2022), a recent case out of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
In this case, Colleen Koslosky was a longtime customer service agent of American Airlines, Inc. (“American”) at the Philadelphia International Airport. In September 2017, she posted a public message on Facebook that told Black Americans that they should be grateful for slavery. Don’t believe me? Here is her racist post:
If I were Black in America, I think I’d get down on my knees every day and thank my lucky stars that my ancestors were brought over here as slaves, because when you look at the amazing rights, privileges, and benefits that come along with U.S. citizenship, and then compare that to the relentless poverty, violence, and suffering in Africa, it’s like winning the Super Lotto, a hundred times over. But I guess I’m old-fashioned that way, believing as I do in the importance of gratitude, humility, and respect.
Id. at *1. Not surprisingly, that did not go over well. Instead of rethinking her approach, Koslosky posted an image that said, “Have you lost your cotton pickin’ mind?” Id.
You can guess what followed. An American employee based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, reported that customers and employees alike across the country had complained about Koslosky’s posts – especially given that she was identified as an American employee. Several other American employees call in complaints to the employee’s ethics hotline. One employee complained directly to the company’s CEO. The local boss in Philadelphia testified that many employees completely refused to work with Koslosky at all “[b]ecause they believed that [she] was racist” and American faced “a large PR incident for the company.” Id.
After immediately suspending Koslosky and American investigated the situation, which included reading Facebook and asking Koslosky if she posted the material, which she admitted. American fired then her for violating its social media, passenger service conduct, and work environment policies. No surprise.
Soon after being fired, Koslosky sued for wrongful termination. Specifically, she alleged disability discrimination because over a year prior to being fired, Koslosky asked for an accommodation because edema in her leg that limited her ability to engage in “excessive walking.” Koslosky had several problems with this claim, starting with the fact that American twice offered to accommodate Koslosky to limit her walking – even though it was not the accommodation that she wanted. (Best Law Read: Can I Pick The ADA Accommodation I Want?; What Is The Interactive Process For Disabled Employees?). Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the employer has the right to choose any accommodation that meets the employee’s medical needs and that accommodation does not need to be the employee’s preferred accommodation or even the best accommodation possible. 29 C.F.R. Pt. 1630, App., § 1630.9. Even more problematic, several months before all of this went down, American did in fact give Koslosky her specifically asked for accommodation. As such, there was never a failure to accommodate.
Koslosky’s ADA retaliation claim did not fare any better given that she could not establish that her racist posts were pretext for her termination. (Best Law Read: Employment Discrimination Question: What Is Pretext?; How Do I Prove That My Employer Lied About Why I Was Fired?; How Do I Prove Pretext For My Wrongful Termination?; Yes, Employers And Their Attorneys Lie). the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit was having none of this: “The District Court didn’t buy it and granted summary judgment against all of Koslosky’s claims. We agree. … As Koslosky points to no evidence of pretext, we are thus left with one conclusion: American fired her because her racially insensitive social media posts violated its policies and generated an outcry from employees and customers alike. Because this is a legitimate justification for her ouster, we are not persuaded that the company violated any law here.” Id. at *1, 3.
Thankfully, we now have United States Court of Appeals decision that confirms that there is a “legitimate justification” to fire employees who post racist crap online. The best way to get rid of racism in the workplace is to get rid of the racists.
How do I sue my employer for racial discrimination?
Best Race Discrimination Attorney Answer: If your employer refuses to fire racists and forces you to work in a racially hostile work environment call the right attorney. Race discrimination is still a big problem in the workplace. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes in unlawful for employers to harass, fire, wrongfully terminate, discriminate, demote, wrongfully discipline, or pay you less because you are Black. 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. (Read: What is the Spitz No Fee Guarantee?; Why Having Skilled Employment Attorneys Is Critical). Our Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Raleigh, Detroit, Toledo, Akron and Youngstown lawyers are here to fight for your rights.
The employment discrimination 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 about your wrongful termination. If you are still asking: “What should I do if my racist boss fired me today?”, “I’m being discriminated against on my job because I’m Black”, “my manager calls me racist names,” or “How do I sue the company that I worked at wrongful termination?”, your best option is to contact an experienced 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.