Jury Rules against Black Employer who Called Black Employee a “Nigger”

Thursday, September 05, 2013
Brandi Johnson (photo: Larry Neumeister, AP)

Use of the “n-word” can land an employer in trouble, even if the communication is between two black people, a federal court has ruled.

 

Brandi Johnson, who is African-American, filed a lawsuit in New York after she was subjected to a tirade and called a “nigger” multiple times by her boss, Rob Carmona, the founder of the non-profit employment center, STRIVE International.

 

Carmona is black and of Puerto Rican descent.

 

The jury sided with Johnson who claimed she was subjected to a hostile work environment. The defendant was ordered to pay $250,000 in compensatory damages and $30,000 in punitive damages.

 

“You and (a previous employee) are just alike. Both of you are smart as s---, but dumb as s---. You know what it is ... both of you are n------, y'all act like n------ all the time,” Carmona said to Johnson, according to audio evidence played in court and obtained by CNN.

 

Carmona called Johnson a nigger eight times during the recording.

 

“And I’m not saying the term n------ as derogatory; sometimes it’s good to know when to act like a n-----, but y’all act like n------ all the time ... both of you very bright, but both y’all act like n------ at inappropriate times,” Carmona said on the recording.

 

Johnson’s complaint stated that Carmona’s tirade was triggered by her defense of a STRIVE program graduate who had allegedly been sexually harassed by a STRIVE employee.

 

In his defense, Carmona said he was only trying to help Johnson, and that his remarks were consistent with the “tough-love culture” he established at the East Harlem center. He testified that he uses the word “nigger” with his friends. “That means my boy, I love him, or whatever,” he said, adding that he was indicating love when he used the word with Johnson.

 

“Well, if calling a person a nigger and subjecting them to a hostile work environment is part of STRIVE's tough love, then STRIVE needs to be reminded that this type of behavior is illegal and cannot be tolerated,” said Marjorie Sharpe, Johnson’s attorney. “The N-word… [is] the most offensive word in the English language.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman

 

To Learn More:

Black Boss's N-Word Rant to Black Employee Costs Him, Nonprofit $280,000 (by Erinn Cawthon and Kristina Sgueglia, CNN)

Federal Jury Rejects ‘N-Word’ Among Blacks in Workplace (by Dareh Gregorian, New York Daily News)

White Use of the Word “Nigger” Goes to Court (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Is “Negro” the New “Nigger”? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)      

Comments

amy christianson 11 months ago
There is no free speech in this country anymore, at least if it is speech critical of black persons.

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