A non-Jewish man will be allowed to sue for anti-Semitic slurs he endured from his supervisors.
A New Jersey appeals court overruled a lower court's ruling that held Myron Cowher, 49, couldn't sue for discrimination because he wasn't Jewish. Cowher claimed a "continual utterance of explicit slurs about Jews" was directed at him for over a year, MSNBC reports. Cowher was a truck driver for Carson & Roberts Site Construction & Engineering. He left in May 2008.
While the court's ruling might sound counterintuitive, it gives good reason for why people of any ethnicity should be able to sue for racist remarks at work.
As long as those comments are directed at them, that is.
The court found that an employer's perception of an employee was the key to finding discrimination and a hostile work environment. In part, as long as the employer's perception (true or false) causes them to treat an employee differently, then discrimination has occurred.
Cowher alleged his supervisors, Jay Unangst and Nick Gingerelli, believed he was Jewish. And because of their misperception, they directed a number of anti-Semitic comments at him.
Some of the highlights as stated in the court's ruling include, "Only a Jew would argue over his hours" and "Jew shuffle." Cowher also alleged his supervisors said, "If you were a German, we would burn you in the oven." A paradoxical insult for sure.
In their defense, Unangst and Gingerelli claim they never believed Cowher was Jewish. Rather they allege the insults started after Cowher and his wife took proceeds from a Super Bowl pool. This action conformed to the stereotype of Jews being greedy, they said in the court's ruling.
Regardless, with the lower court's summary judgment overturned, a triable issue of fact now exists. And the non-Jewish Cowher will be allowed to sue for anti-Semitic remarks.
- Court Rules Man Who Claims He Endured Anti-Semitic Slurs Can Sue Despite Not Being Jewish (The Star-Ledger)
- How to Prevent a Hostile Work Environment (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
- Discrimination and Harassment (FindLaw)