A supervisor calling an employee that word wasn’t proof of an abusive environment, Barrett wrote.
Using the “n-word” does not create “a hostile or abusive working environment,” according to Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
A report from The Independent notes that just last year, serving on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett wrote an opinion upholding the dismissal of Smith v. Illinois Department of Transportation, a case in which fired Black state employee Terry Smith filed a workplace discrimination lawsuit. Among Smith’s assertions is that Lloyd Colbert, his White supervisor, called him the n-word.
Smith didn’t make a strong enough case that harassment was occurring, Barrett asserted.
“The n-word is an egregious racial epithet. That said, Smith can’t win simply by proving that the word was uttered,” she wrote. “He must also demonstrate that Colbert’s use of this word altered the conditions of his employment and created a hostile or abusive working environment.”
Ironically, even Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a previous appointee of President Donald Trump, disagreed with her ruling on the matter — before it materialized.
Back in 2013, while a Washington D.C. federal appeals court judge, Kavanaugh wrote: “No other word in the English language so powerfully or instantly calls to mind our country’s long and brutal struggle to overcome racism and discrimination against African-Americans. In short, the case law demonstrates that a single, sufficiently severe incident may create a hostile work environment.”
Barrett is the mother of two Black children adopted from Haiti and five biological children.
The confirmation process to appoint Barrett to the highest court in the land is currently underway. Barrett was tapped by Trump to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the court less than two months before the national Election Day.
Barrett, a staunch conservative, has been pressed on her personal views about abortion, gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act, all cases soon to appear before the court.
Further, Barrett was asked if she would recuse herself if a case contesting the U.S. election appeared before her in the coming months.
In her avoidance of an actual response, she noted the word of the late Justice Ginsburg, replying, “Justice Ginsburg, in explaining the way recusal works, said that it’s always up to the individual justice, but it always involves consultation with the colleagues — with the other eight justices. So that’s not a question that I could answer in the abstract.”
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