Circuit Overturns Denial|of Discrimination Claim

(CN) – A Maryland woman is entitled to a discrimination judgment as a result of her daily exposure to racist and sexist epithets, the 4th Circuit ruled.




     La Tonya Medley worked for Central Wholesalers in Laurel, Md., along with one other woman and six men in the inside sales department.
     Medley, a black woman, said some of the men in her department regularly used the “n-word” to describe black people and the word “bitches” to describe women.
     One co-worker had a screen-saver depicting partially naked women and played a pornographic video on his computer within earshot of Medley.
     When she complained directly to her co-workers, their conduct worsened.
     Medley later had a problem with another co-worker who screamed at her and called her racial names in front of their supervisor. Medley also discovered blue-faced, mop-headed dolls hanging from nooses in their offices.
     Medley left her job, and the Equal Employment Opportunity filed a federal lawsuit in her name. The district court ruled in favor Central, because Medley left work after the screaming incident and because the company conducted a reasonable investigation.
     But Judge Shedd of the Richmond, Va.-based federal appeals court reversed, because the conduct of Medley’s colleagues was unwelcome, severe, and based on Medley’s gender and race. Shedd also found that Central did not take adequate steps to stop the discriminatory behavior.

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