Using the 'N' Word Illegal At Work

Jury Agrees Use of N-Word by Black Employer Creates Hostile Work Environment for Black Employee.

Alex Granovsky appears on Dealin’ Straight Radio Show

Brandi Johnson, a 38 year old black woman from New York, was recently awarded a $280,000 verdict in her hostile work environment claim which was heard in a Manhattan federal court. Johnson was awarded $30,000 in punitive damages and $250,000 in compensatory damages after the jury agreed with Plaintiff that her boss’ use of the N-word in a workplace tirade was hostile and discriminatory in nature. Johnson’s complaint comes after the founder of East Harlem STRIVE, Rob Carmona, a black male, repeatedly disparaged her with the use of the N-word and other harsh statements during a 4-minute long berating.

Carmona, the founder of STRIVE, defended his actions, testifying that his verbiage was merely tough love with no discriminatory intent. In fact, Carmona referenced “multiple contexts” in his defense, stating the black and Latino communities use the N-word in affectionate contexts.

Johnson testified during the trial that Carmona’s tirade left her feeling offended, hurt and degraded. Johnson she cried for 45 minutes following Carmona’s rant, feeling embarrassed and disrespected. To Johnson’s benefit, she recorded the March 2012 tirade, in which Carmona repeatedly used the N-word. Johnson’s attorney, Marjorie M. Sharpe, played the recording during the trial, allowing the jury to hear for themselves the language used by Carmona to Johnson and to determine whether or not Carmona’s actions were discriminatory and hostile in nature.

Carmona reiterated his sentiment in regards to his intentions of the use of the N-word, stating, "I come from a different time," where “tough love” and “tough words,” including the N-word, were accepted as motivators.

Believing that Carmona used the N-word and create a hostile work environment, jurors awarded Johnson with a favorable verdict. Although some will argue that the N-word is acceptable in certain contexts, the jury verdict reiterates the very offensive nature of using the N-word, especially in a working and professional environment.

If you feel you have been the victim of harassment or discrimination in New York, contact our New York employment law office today.