Sunday, June 28, 2015
In a recent decision from the National Labor Relations Board Division of Judges, racist comments are protected so long as the comments are not imminent threats. On June 5, 2015, Administrative Law Judge, Randazzo, ruled that Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (hereinafter “Respondent”) violated the National Labor Relations Act by terminating an employee for making racist comments.
On January 7, 2012, the Respondent participated in a lockout of the employees. Among those employees was Anthony Runion, a Caucasian male. During the course of the lockout, the Respondent brought in replacement workers, which included several African Americans. As the replacement workers were entering the main gate, Runion began to make several racist comments about smelling “KFC fried chicken” and “watermelon.” On March 1, 2012, the Respondent discharged Runion alleging that Runion’s racist comments violated the Respondent’s harassment policy.
The ALJ concluded that although Runion’s remarks were racist, offensive, and clearly inappropriate, the Respondent violated the NLRA when it fired Runion for remarks that were used in the context of a strike. Further, any comments made by Runion while on the picket line are protected conduct so long as the comments do not constitute a threat.
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Christina Jacobs worked as a deputy clerk at a courthouse in New Hanover County, North Carolina. Jacobs was assigned to provide customer service at the courthouse front counter. After suffering from several panic attacks and extreme stress from her position at the front counter, Jacobs went to one of the supervisors to request a role that involved less direct interpersonal interaction. The supervisor instructed Jacobs to seek medical attention. Once the stress and panic attacks began to increase, Jacobs submitted a second request for an accommodation. Jacobs was terminated following the second request. The United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that social anxiety disorder qualifies as a disability because it hinders a person’s ability to interact with others. The court explained that the ADA imposes a good-faith duty upon employers, to engage with their employees, to identify a reasonable accommodation when one is requested.