An African-American Man from Atlanta Recovers $3.39M After Proving His Prospective Employer Engaged in Illegal ‘Race-Matching’

Race discrimination cases can span a broad spectrum, from those involving allegations of employers blatantly and remorselessly setting out to discriminate against certain races to employers whose discriminatory misconduct was wholly lacking in “racial animus.” In either scenario, the discrimination is illegal and can entitle the workers harmed by it to recover substantial compensation. To get the information you need about race discrimination and your workplace, be sure to contact an experienced Atlanta race discrimination lawyer as soon as possible.

One especially pernicious form of race discrimination is something called “race matching.” In these instances, which often arise in the sales industry, the employer considers only candidates of one specific race, believing that a person of that race will “match” with a desired target audience and therefore be more successful with those customers.

K.F. was an African-American sales professional caught up in that sort of illegal practice. In September 2019, a shipping company offered him an account executive position. A short time later, though, the company rescinded the offer, ostensibly after discovering that K.F. had on his criminal record a 2014 misdemeanor for disorderly conduct.

The candidate’s complaint asserted that the company’s president ordered the rescinding of the offer, telling the Director of Human Resources to hire only white candidates because “whites could get in the door with customers that minorities could not.”

This, of course, is a textbook example of race discrimination prohibited by law. The candidate’s presentation to the jury was highly effective. After the trial, the jury awarded the candidate $90,000 in lost wages, $300,000 in emotional distress damages, and $3 million in punitive damages.

The problem of illegal discrimination in “race-matching” scenarios is especially high among employers based overseas, according to the candidate’s legal team. K.F.’s lawyers stated in a press release that the case was a “part of a troubling trend of overseas employers coming to Georgia and failing to respect the rights of workers to be treated fairly regardless of race.”

While K.F. recovered a large punitive damages award, punitive damages in a Title VII employment discrimination case are not always available. For example, you cannot recover punitive damages if the employer who discriminated against you was a federal, state, or local government entity. In seeking punitive damages, you have to persuade the jury that the employer’s conduct was especially heinous or malicious and that a punitive damages award is needed to discourage similar forms of illegal conduct in the future.

Malice is Not Required to Trigger Employer Liability

An earlier case from our south is a reminder to employers that, while good faith and a lack of malice may help it avoid punitive damages, they won’t help them escape liability entirely. The lawsuit involved an elderly Hispanic patient at a Florida hospital who had been mugged by an African-American man and experienced substantial emotional trauma when placed near dark-skinned people. Sensitive to the woman’s state, the hospital worked to keep dark-skinned staff away from the woman.

That practice led an African-American female nurse to sue for race discrimination. The court sided with the nurse, pointing out that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled in 1999 that the “crucial issue” in cases like this was “whether a defendant who acts with no racial animus but makes job assignments on the basis of race can be held liable for intentional discrimination,” and that the clear answer was “yes.” In other words, there is no legitimate reason for discrimination.

Whether you are an employer seeking to ensure that your policies and practices are compliant with current discrimination law, or you’re a worker who has been victimized by race discrimination, the knowledgeable Atlanta race discrimination attorneys at the law firm of Parks, Chesin & Walbert can help. Contact us today at 404-873-8048 or through this website to schedule a consultation and put our knowledge and experience to work for you.

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