High Court Sends Race Discrimination Case Back Down

February 22, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The US Supreme Court has ruled that supervisors' use of the word "boy" to refer to two African American employees could represent sufficient evidence of workplace bias.

Justices struck down a ruling by the 11 th US Circuit Court of Appeals granting a new trial to Tyson Foods on the discrimination issue, according to a HR.BLR.com report.

Justices said appellate judges had not only been mistaken in their opinion that use of the word “boy” wasn’t sufficiently hard evidence to sustain the discrimination charge, but also in their ruling about whether the company’s stated reason for its disputed hiring decisions was itself simply a pretext for discriminatory behavior.

The two plaintiffs sued their employer for racial discrimination after being passed over for promotions in favor of two white men, who were hired into the positions. After a jury found for the employees and awarded them compensatory and punitive damages, Tyson sought a new trial which a district court granted. The appellate court upheld the lower court’s decision.

The Supreme Court ordered the appeals court to consider whether “the two aspects of its decision here determined to have been mistaken were essential to its holding.”

The latest high court ruling is  here .