Racial slurs and epithets have no place in society. They are often vulgar, demeaning, and perpetrate a culture of racism that is unacceptable. They are even more unacceptable when used in the workplace. One man, who works for the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), filed a discrimination lawsuit after a racial slur was used against him at his job during 2011. He now claims that his job has been unfairly threatened as a result of his lawsuit.
Michael Alexander sued NJDOT, alleging that the state agency "engages in an ongoing campaign of racial discrimination and retaliation, and permits a hostile work environment." His claim is based primarily on racial jokes and comments that were made at his work. As the jokes and comments became more severe, Alexander filed a complaint with his employer. Following his complaint, however, Alexander says that he became the victim of several retaliatory disciplinary actions.
In support of his claims, Alexander alleges that his co-workers often made racially based jokes about him. He also claims that the jokes eventually reached an unacceptable level and that he was called the "N"-word and that the same word was also engraved in an elevator at his job. When he received disciplinary action following his internal complaint, Alexander claims that he was still successfully performing all the duties of his job. As a result of the unfair discipline, discriminatory jokes, and hostile work environment, Alexander eventually filed a discrimination lawsuit against NJDOT.
Alexander's lawsuit was filed several years ago and has been an ongoing legal matter. Since he filed his lawsuit, Alexander has continued to work for NJDOT. Recently, NJDOT approached Alexander with a settlement offer. In exchange for $250,000, Alexander would be required to quit his job.
Although this may seem like a significant amount of money, Alexander does not want to quit his job and believes that this requirement is retaliatory in nature. He has now asked a judge to review the settlement, and to make a decision as to whether it is fair to require him to quit his job, or whether it is simply an action of retaliation by NJDOT.
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