Why do law firms have a tendency to partake in racism despite — theoretically — understanding the laws that should discourage such behavior? Like “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Tootsie Pop,” the world may never know.
In the meantime, ATL will be there to talk about it.
Like a law firm whose white management might hold an event for their black associates and serve fried chicken because… you know.
Racism. It’s a thing…
Let’s mess with Texas, shall we? From KDFW:
Two former employees of a Dallas-area law firm are suing after the firm threw a Juneteenth party with fried chicken and Big Red among other alleged racial discrimination.
The two black employees allege unlawful employment practices, racial discrimination and having to work in a racially hostile work environment at the firm of Eberstein & Witherite, which does business under the name 1800-CAR-WRECK. The suit was filed in a Dallas County court on Aug. 2.
If you aren’t familiar with Juneteenth, well, you should be because it’s a recognized holiday in 42 states and the District of Columbia. It is generally a celebration of the end of slavery, even though the date, June 19, is only the anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in Galveston, Texas.
Which makes this even crazier — this is, at root, a Texas holiday. And allegedly they still managed to screw it up. According to the complaint, a black employee asked to have Juneteenth off and a white human resources manager wrote, “Y’all don’t need no day off. Ya’ll need to work.” I guess there were ambulances for 1800-CAR-WRECK to chase that day.
Grammar and shifting spellings of “y’all” aside, Juneteenth is not one of those holidays everyone gets off, but in Texas it’s a pretty big deal. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the Republican former Senator from Texas, moved to make it a national holiday for Christ’s sake. So denying time off for Juneteenth in Texas is a little tone deaf.
Now let’s talk about the alleged menu of this extravaganza. Look, do black people like fried chicken from time to time? Sure, because fried chicken is objectively awesome. But if white management throws a party for African American employees celebrating the end of forced slavery and decides to cater it with delicious, delicious stereotypes, it speaks to deeper problems. Fuzzy Zoeller/Sergio Garcia-type problems. It speaks to an eagerness to let stereotypes guide interactions.
Plus, it’s hard to characterize this an innocent mix-up in light of the other allegations:
One of the plaintiffs, Julius Jackson, said he was reprimanded and retaliated against after he complained to management about the Juneteenth celebration. The suit said he was disciplined for acting “superior,” which the suit said is code for being an “uppity Black male.”
The second plaintiff, Erica Cornelius, was hired the day after the Juneteenth party and alleges the HR manager repeatedly questioned her about her ethnic background. The HR manager allegedly told Cornelius, “I don’t even know if you’re black,” and “Oh No. You’re not going to have that mad, bitter black attitude with me.”
Jackson and Cornelius were fired within days of each other in August of last year, so the Juneteenth banquet was more of the beginning of the end for them.
The good people of 1800-CAR-WRECK deny any wrongful stereotyping.
Eberstein & Witherite cofounder Amy Witherite said the lawsuit is without merit in a statement to FOX4.
“This firm has been built upon core values of diversity and an inclusive workplace, and we will strongly defend ourselves against these unfair and untrue accusations of discrimination,” Witherite said.
No doubt they just want to get back to litigating auto accident claims caused by all those women and Asians.