Barrett Opinion: Using The N-Word At Work Doesn’t Make A Workplace “Hostile”

Screengrab / Hillsdale College / YouTube

JakeThomas

Amy Barrett wrote in 2019 that "the n-word is an egregious racial epithet" but does not alone make a workplace hostile.

On the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel last year that being called the n-word at work does not in itself make for a “hostile” work environment.

The Associated Press reported that the decision “upheld the dismissal of a workplace discrimination lawsuit by Terry Smith, a Black Illinois transportation employee who sued after he was fired.”

Among Smith’s claims was that his supervisor Lloyd Colbert had called him the racial slur.

“The n-word is an egregious racial epithet,” Barrett wrote in Smith v. Illinois Department of Transportation. “That said, Smith can’t win simply by proving that the word was uttered. He must also demonstrate that Colbert’s use of this word altered the conditions of his employment and created a hostile or abusive working environment.”

Barrett went on to say that Smith “introduced no evidence that Colbert’s use of the n-word changed his subjective experience of the workplace. To be sure, Smith testified that his time at the Department caused him psychological distress. But that was for reasons that predated his run-in with Colbert and had nothing to do with his race. His tenure at the Department was rocky from the outset because of his poor track record.”

The AP noted that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh took the opposite position in 2013, when he served as a federal appeals court judge in Washington, D.C.

Kavanaugh wrote at the time:

“But, in my view, being called the n-word by a supervisor ... suffices by itself to establish a racially hostile work environment. That epithet has been labeled, variously, a term that ‘sums up . . . all the bitter years of insult and struggle in America,’ ‘pure anathema to African-Americans,’ and ’probably the most offensive word in English.”

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Comments (9)
No. 1-7
Hockeyfan1st
Hockeyfan1st

Cavanaugh is right. That word makes ME uncomfortable, and I'm white. I would ask them not to use such a word around me.

Jose Torres
Jose Torres

I'll bite.
Lets assume, for sake of argument, that your boss using the n word in front of a Black person doesn't make it a hostile work environment.

What does she think does result from that? And is there some legal standard of offense, or, you know, would like every freaking Black person in America, and maybe a ton of people who ARENT Black but just might happen to LOOK "Black" might say? I've met people who were say, from Tonga (Pacific Islands) who say, "I'm not Black..." but later say, "OMG, America is so concerned with race, and I get called a ni**er, and oh my goodness...."

Yeah. Amy - maybe ask those people? Because, you know, just asking your kids or having kids that have that skin tone isn't, uh, what is the word you used? - it isn't by itself SUFFICIENT.

God save us if we can't be rid of her soon. Now she has to tell Black people what is or is not offensive? or hostile?

I can see her thinking, "But, but, but, people say what's up my ni**er in movies, right? right? right?????????" <- and her having cognitive dissonance.

She is so incredibly immature to be on that court for life

Shelie
Shelie

I need to know what drugs she's taking to believe such horseshit! Until she herself is racially insulted or profiled she needs to stfu as she has no clue about what a hostile environment is.

deevirgo
deevirgo

I bet if I went to my workplace and called every white person a cracker they would find that hostile.

WhatHaveWeBecome
WhatHaveWeBecome

Well as the father of African American children I can tell you this is damn hostile. What kind of example do you think this sets for all our children? Judge Barrett should be ashamed of herself. Such faulty reasoning does not belong at the court of last resort for the American people. Shaking my head is disgust!

A_Voice_of_Reason
A_Voice_of_Reason

I like how not a single one of you took time to even look up the case and just let someone else tell you what to think. The person who used the N word is also black and Smith was documented as being a horrible employee and failing many safety proticals in his job repeatedly. If this wasn't a state job Smith would have been fired months before. Smith in turn tried to cry discrimination, but his work problems were well documented and a black man calling another the N word doesn't carry the same weight as far as racism goes?

ka7aok
ka7aok

I am 85 and white and I considered the word egregious when I was in high school in Brooklyn in 1950.


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