ATLANTA (CN) – An employee cannot claim racial discrimination over her company’s failure to discipline another employee for racial slurs that were directed at a third party, the 11th Circuit ruled.
Alverine Butler, a black woman, complained that white co-worker Karen Stacey unleashed a torrent of racial epithets after a vehicle driven by a black man collided with her truck.
“Did you see that?” Stacey said, according to Butler. “Did you see that m f -ing nigger hit me?”
Butler complained to their supervisor, prompting an argument with Stacy. Both were reprimanded, but as time went on, Butler was treated significantly worse on the job than Stacy was.
The district court found the employer, Alabama Department of Transportation, liable for discrimination and awarded Butler $200,000.
Judge Carnes reversed the decision, stating that Stacey’s language after the accident did not constitute an unlawful employment practice by the transportation department.
“Assuming that Butler did believe that Stacey’s words immediately after the wreck amounted to an unlawful employment practice by ALDOT,” Carnes wrote, “her belief is not objectively reasonable. It’s not even close.”