The Law of Wrongful Discharge

Haworth Found Liable for Race Discrimination

Posted by Bradley Glazier | Dec 02, 2018 | 0 Comments

Magistrate Judge Ray Kent from the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan rendered his verdict on November 29, 2018. The case, Anderson v Haworth was brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The plaintiff, Laantonette Anderson, filed the complaint on her own behalf (known as in pro per) in federal court in 2015, claiming that Haworth had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The case was dismissed in the district court, but Anderson filed her own appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Sixth Circuit found that Ms. Anderson was held to a different standard from the non-African American applicants and sent the case back to the district court for trial.

After a three day bench trial, the Court found that the human resources representative who made the decision to bypass Anderson was not credible on key issues in the trial. The plant manager had recommended hiring Anderson. Anderson's direct supervisor told the representative that Anderson was “awesome” and should be “moved to the top of the list.” Despite being the only candidate with over a decade of experience in the furniture manufacturing industry and a bachelor's degree, Haworth required Anderson to provide higher quality references than other non-African American applicants, and rejected Anderson's application in favor of inexperienced applicants, one of whom misspelled the name of the fast food restaurant where he had worked.

   Judge Kent stated that he found no evidence of a pattern of institutional racism at Haworth, but that the representative Haworth assigned to making the hiring decisions “could not articulate the equal employment policy” and took “otherwise inexplicable actions” during Anderson's hiring process. Judge Kent held that Haworth violated its own policies and that the human resources representative who refused to hire Anderson had “done things she shouldn't and didn't do things she should.” He found Haworth's reasons for not hiring Ms. Anderson “not make sense and were not believable.” Observing that there is rarely direct evidence of racism by large sophisticated employers, Judge Kent described his task of discerning whether Haworth took race into consideration to the task of Percival Lowell, who was unable to see the planet of Pluto, but was able to ascertain its existence and location from the wobbles in the orbits of Uranus and Neptune.

   The Court awarded Ms. Anderson compensatory damages for back pay, emotional distress damages, and two years of front pay to compensate for the pay differential she experienced after securing new employment. Bos & Glazier attorneys Bradley Glazier and Robert Howard proudly represented Ms. Anderson at trial. Bos & Glazier represents employees who face discrimination in the workplace, including discrimination based upon age, sex, race, disability, and religion.

About the Author

Bradley Glazier

Bradley K. Glazier has enjoyed his success as trial lawyer for more than 30 years. In that time, Mr. Glazier has presented dozens of cases to judges, juries and arbitrators. He is a frequent speaker at employment litigation seminars.


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