Supreme Court Weakens Civil Rights Statute that Protects Against Racial Discrimination in the Workplace
CONTACT: Christiaan Perez, [email protected], 212-739-7581
New York, NY – The following is a statement from Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF on the United States Supreme Court decision yesterday in Comcast v. National Association of African American Owned Media (NAAAOM)
The Supreme Court's decision continues a pattern of making race claims more difficult to bring at the pleading stage of litigation. LatinoJustice PRLDEF joined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and others in an amicus brief urging the Court that credible allegations that race played a part in employment decisions impede the right to contract on equal terms as whites in this country – the guarantee in the country’s oldest civil rights statute, Section 1981.
Instead of recognizing how impermissible racial motivation should be in any employment context, the Court instead would allow any defendant to allege that any neutral justification for the adverse employment action is enough to dismiss a credible complaint. This is a dangerous precedent that also belies how race permeates everyday decisions in the workplace. As we argued in our amicus brief to the Court, if an employer fires a Black employee for a mistake but gives white employees only a mild reprimand for the same infraction, that impedes the right of Black employees to make contracts on the same terms as whites. We submit that that happens daily against both African American and Latino workers – whether or not it is motivated by implicit bias.
And yet, the Court would permit judges to dismiss credible complaints that allege that race was a motivating factor in discriminatory decisions. LatinoJustice will continue to monitor the implementation of this new interpretation of discrimination law with an eye towards ensuring that all workers of color have an equal opportunity to make and enforce a contract.
LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For more than 40 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout New York and beyond. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.latinojustice.org.