Auburn University hit with Racial Discrimination Lawsuit

Last Thursday, nine former Auburn University Athletic Department employees filed a racial discrimination suit against the college in U.S. District Court in Montgomery, Alabama.

The lawsuit stems from a spree of firings in 2010. When AU moved its basketball arena from the old Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum to a new arena, the Athletic Department let go of 11 workers, 10 of whom happened to be African American.

Kurtis Chandler was one of the employees who was let go. In a statement at a press conference following the filing of the suit, Chandler said: “it is just mindboggling that in 2011 it [racial discrimination] is still going on.” The employees want their jobs back at AU’s Athletics Department as well as compensatory and punitive damages as well as back pay.

The nine workers filed complaints with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) last June about the job losses, however the EEOC apparently had been moving too slowly for the group, so they commenced legal action on their own.

Reaction from around the blogosphere
Some analysts suggest that the employees are making a “mountain out of a mole hill.” These critics argue that AU had simply downsized its workforce without any conscious malice and that the majority of the fired workers happened to be African American was a random coincidence.

There are others who see more disturbing motives. These critics point out that Auburn is located in Montgomery, Alabama – one of the bastions of the Old South where discrimination was rife.

It’s often difficult to parse the veracity of discrimination allegations. Even after you consider witness statements, relevant documents, and historical context, there is the possibility for serious errors.

News stories – even in-depth news analyses – typically don’t delve deep enough into allegations of racial discrimination, retaliation, and sexual harassment to provide readers with enough meaningful information to draw fair conclusions.

Does this mean you shouldn’t react emotionally when you read stories about racial discrimination? Obviously not. But a more mature approach to analyzing the news might help; withhold your judgment until more facts are clear.

If you’ve personally witnessed (or have been victimized by) racial discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, or wage and hour violations, you know how difficult it can be to get other people – even sympathetic family members – to empathize with your concerns and to really hear out what happened to you. Solving job-related “hostile work environment” situations begins with active listening.

If you crave to be listened to about your discrimination or harassment matter, talk to the reputable, compassionate, and experienced team at Joseph & Kirschenbaum. Dial (212) 688-5640, or learn more about the team on the web at www.jhllp.com.