Thursday, October 05, 2006

Evil of a Different Sort

I've been debating with Mark Olson about the relative horribleness of the detainee treatment bill. As far as I can tell, we both now agree it does some really bad things, and only disagree as to how evil it is. But since Mark seems to agree that a) the torture stuff is really bad and b) the inability for any person in any situation who is detained to assert habeas is bad, I can safely claim vindication in my original lamentation of the bill and the blot it puts on America's conscience.

Several months ago, I penned a post on a wholly different topic: The 4th Circuit case of Jordan v. Alternative Resources Corporation. The 4th Circuit is the most conservative in the nation, but even I was shocked at how far they descended to obliterate civil rights protections here. Here are the facts and judgment of that inkblot:
Jordan worked for IBM. As many of you know, the "DC Sniper" was operating in our area, causing much fear and tension. The two snipers (both of whom were Black) were caught while Jordan was at work. One of his fellow employees, seeing the news, proclaimed: "[t]hey should put those two black monkeys in a cage with a bunch of black apes and let the apes fuck them." Jordan consulted with several of his other coworkers, who confirmed that this particular employee had made comparable comments many times in the past. Pursuant to IBM policy, which mandated that employees report racial harassment, Jordan filed a complaint. His supervisor responded by changing his work hours to less convenient times, making a derogatory gesture and comment towards him at an office party, and within a month firing him. It does not appear that anyone is seriously arguing that these actions were not retaliatory. Incredibly, the Court found that this did not constitute a retaliatory action in violation of Title VII, because Jordan could not even have reasonably believed that his coworkers action could have created a hostile work environment.

So, yeah. Nuts case. My usage of "evil" in that case was less serious than with regards to torture, and more "why does the 4th circuit not care about basic principles of justice." So, it's not as bad as, say, extra-judicial torture. But it's still pretty sucky. Anyway, Dan Filler reports that, by a 5-5 vote, the 4th Circuit has voted to deny en banc review, effectively killing any hope of overturning the ruling. So now, in my homestate of Maryland and throughout the 4th circuit realm, your corporation can mandate that you report racist remarks, then fire you for reporting them, and then you can be subjected to the indignity of a court telling you that you were "objectively unreasonable" for believing that a co-worker with a history of racist remarks talking about putting "two black monkeys in a cage with a bunch of black apes and let[ting] the apes fuck them" might create a hostile work environment.

Hooray for judicial conservatism!

1 comment:

Rudi said...

But to not report them would be to condone the remarks. Because the employee had a history of similar remarks the judges were wrong. But I guess this is a example of "good" judicial activism. I think Tommy likes the decision.