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reveal moments Racial Microaggressions in the Workplace Diamond Law Training © 2013
The Dominant Paradigm Antidiscrimination laws have worked. We are on a level playing field. Any remaining racism in society is caused by bad individuals. Nothing can really change that. Current racial inequality exists because minorities lack appropriate values, such as hard work. Diamond Law Training © 2013
Microaggression Theory Microaggressions are common, unintentional slights and insults related to race, ethnicity, gender, etc. Microaggression theory focuses on the effects rather than the intentions behind a persons actions. Diamond Law Training © 2013
The Science Science demonstrates that unconscious racial prejudice persists even though we consciously endorse egalitarian values. Microaggressions occur because of negative unconscious beliefs about people of color. Diamond Law Training © 2013
Examples of Common Microaggressions Based Upon Race & Ethnicity Diamond Law Training © 2013
Asian-Americans are viewed as not being from here. Asian-Americans may be told you speak good English or asked where are you from? Asian-Americans are assumed to be good at math. Diamond Law Training © 2013
African-Americans and Latinos are followed by store security, stopped by police, or treated as threats. People unconsciously show fear when around black men. Diamond Law Training © 2013
Implications Microaggression theory combats the prevalent belief that we are on a level playing field. Microaggression theory proves that discrimination continues to be a factor in maintaining historic inequality. Diamond Law Training © 2013
Why does it matter? Discrimination goes against our shared values. We believe in fair opportunities for all as the starting point to have best society we can create. Unions are well-placed to fight microaggressions. Diamond Law Training © 2013
Microaggressions and the Law Racially hostile work environments are illegal in public and private sector workplaces in the United States. However, the law only forbids the most extreme cases. Diamond Law Training © 2013
Applicable Federal Law: Title VII Title VII prohibits a racially hostile work environment. A hostile work environment exists when the workplace is permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult, that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim's employment and create an abusive working environment. Harris v. Forklift Sys., Inc., 510 U.S. 17, 21, 114 S.Ct. 367, 126 L.Ed.2d 295 (1993). Diamond Law Training © 2013
The Standard for Hostile Work Environment The hostile work environment standard is both subjective and objective. The employee must establish a workplace that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive, and one that [he or she] in fact did perceive to be so. Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775, 787, 118 S.Ct. 2275, 141 L.Ed.2d 662 (1998) (citing Harris, 510 U.S. at 21-22, 114 S.Ct Diamond Law Training © 2013
Liability: Race Aman v. Cort Furniture Rental Corp., 85 F3d 1074 (3 rd Cir. 1996). African-American employees were referred to as one of them or another one, told not to touch anything or steal anything, made to do menial jobs, screamed at, threatened with termination, had their time cards stolen, were falsely accused of wrongdoing, had information necessary to their jobs withheld, were given conflicting orders, and a general manager stated at a district meeting that the blacks were against the whites and if anybody didn't like it at Cort Furniture, they could leave.. Diamond Law Training © 2013
Liability: Ethnicity Cardenas v. Massey, 269 F3d 251 ( 3 rd Cir. 2001). The supervisor of a Mexican-American employee referred to him as the boy from the barrio and mojado asked employee during disagreements if he would pull a switchblade to resolve them, posted derogatory messages on the marker board in the plaintiff's cubicle, rounded the evaluation scores of all other employees up while rounding the plaintiff's down, intentionally gave the plaintiff contradictory instructions and tasks that were impossible to perform, and referred to him as an affirmative-action hire. Diamond Law Training © 2013
No Liability: Race Smith v. Fairview Ridges Hospital, 625 F.3d 1076 (8 th Cir ) Plaintiff overhears a nurse say, If she's unhappy here, why does she come back? Another nurse responded, Just like a dog, you beat them and abuse them, they still come back. Just like any good runaway slave would. Teyona Brown, an African-American coworker, testified that she overheard two white employees referring to plaintiff and stating, She needs to go back to the ghetto where she came from. Diamond Law Training © 2013
No Liability: Race In Woodward v. DHB Die Casting, 255 Fed. Appx. 608 (3 rd Cir. 2007), the phrase you people was used to refer to plaintiffs race, he was asked if he planned to execute a drug deal during a bathroom break, and graffiti depicting a burning cross and a Klu Klux Klan sign on a bathroom wall at work remained posted for three months after he reported it to his employer. Diamond Law Training © 2013
No Liability: Race Sherrod v. Philadelphia Gas Works, 57 Fed. Appx. 58 (3 rd Cir. 2003). A manager said he didn't like the way they [two African-American employees] were eating at their desks, it must be their culture, and another manager said if they [two African-American employees] don't do their work, I'm going to sit at their desks with a whip. Curtis v. Airborne Freight Corp., 87 F.Supp.2d 234, (S.D.N.Y. 2000) Two isolated racial slurs by ill-mannered supervisor are insufficient to create a hostile work environment. Findlay v. Reynolds Metals Co., 82 F.Supp.2d 27, 39 (N.D.N.Y. 2000) Co-workers and management placed cones resembling Ku Klux Klan hats on plaintiff's car and yelled at him for work- related deficiencies.) Diamond Law Training © 2013
The Harm of Microaggressions Microaggressions occur frequently and their impact accumulates over a persons lifetime. Studies show that microaggressions cause psychological harm and contribute to negative experiences for people of color in school, work, and counseling environments. The cumulative effects of microaggressions are not micro. Diamond Law Training © 2013
Federal Discrimination Cases Studies show that judges do not accept microaggressions as evidence of discrimination unless there is proof of hostile intent. There is a disconnect between the law and the real life experiences of people of color/ethnic minorities. Diamond Law Training © 2013
The Great Divide Race discrimination claims increased 15 percent between , according to the EEOC. To victims, discrimination is increasing. Many people in the majority white culture believe that racism is over. Diamond Law Training © 2013
The Movie Diamond Law Training © 2013
Implications Microaggressions contribute to racially hostile environments for many people of color/ethnic minorities. To improve working conditions, unions are uniquely placed to help bridge the divide. Diamond Law Training © 2013
Microaggressions: the challenge Even well-intentioned white people who openly oppose racial bias will commit microaggressions based upon unconscious beliefs passed on by the dominant culture. It is not anyones fault that microaggressions exist. This is not about blaming white people. Diamond Law Training © 2013
Can We Stop Unintentional Racism? First we have to admit it exists, even though it is painful. Then we have to create a safe space for discussion for everyone. Diamond Law Training © 2013
The Potential Benefits For Unions Who benefits from the status quo dividing workers based upon race or ethnicity? We all benefit from solidarity, and from a real, pluralistic world that honors all workers. Diamond Law Training © 2013
What to Do About Microaggressions? Become aware. Be ready to intervene and seize the moment. Consider interrupting the speaker politely, and asking what do you mean by that? Discuss the behavior or words, not the person. Discuss strategies with allies and be open to feedback. Diamond Law Training © 2013
Best Resources Discrimination in the 21 st Century: Are Science and the Law Aligned? 17 Psychology. Public Policy & Law 54 (2011). Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Implications for Clinical Practice, Sue, Derald Wing, American Psychologist (May-June, 2007). Microaggressions and Marginality, Sue, D.W., Editor (2010, Wiley). Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender and Sexual Orientation. Sue, D. W. (2010, Wiley.) Diamond Law Training © 2013
Cont Gilliam, F. (2006) The Architecture of a New Racial Discourage: A FrameWorks message memo, Diamond Law Training © 2013
Websites Diamond Law Training © 2013
Books Diamond Law Training © 2013
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