Category Archives: Race discrimination

Legislative Update: Insurance industry seeks amendment to West Virginia Human Rights Act

Insur­ance com­pa­nies have been urg­ing the West Vir­ginia Leg­is­la­ture to pass leg­is­la­tion to over­turn the West Vir­ginia Supreme Court’s deci­sion in Michael v. Appalachi­an Heat­ing, LLC, 701 S.E.2d 116 (June 11, 2010). In Michael, the West Vir­ginia Supreme Court held that the West Vir­ginia Human Rights Act pro­hib­it­ed dis­crim­i­na­tion by an insur­ance com­pa­ny in set­tling claims cov­ered by an insur­ance pol­i­cy.

The Michael Deci­sion

Gen­er­al­ly, the Human Rights Act pro­hibits dis­crim­i­na­tion (1) in the work­place, (2) in places of pub­lic accom­mo­da­tion (like hotels, shop­ping cen­ters), and (3) in con­nec­tion with trans­ac­tions involv­ing hous­ing and real estate (like rent­ing apart­ments and buy­ing hous­es).

But at issue in Michael was sec­tion 5–11-9(7) of the Human Rights Act, which was not lim­it­ed to those three cat­e­gories of activ­i­ty. Here is the rel­e­vant lan­guage in sec­tion 5–11-9(7)(A);

It shall be an unlaw­ful dis­crim­i­na­to­ry prac­tice [based on race, reli­gion, col­or, nation­al ori­gin, ances­try, sex, age, and dis­abil­i­ty] …

(7) For any per­son, employ­er, employ­ment agency, labor orga­ni­za­tion, own­er, real estate bro­ker, real estate sales­man or finan­cial insti­tu­tion to:

(A) Engage in [1] any form of threats or reprisal, or to [2] engage in, or hire, or con­spire with oth­ers to com­mit acts or activ­i­ties of any nature, the pur­pose of which is to harass, degrade, embar­rass or cause phys­i­cal harm or eco­nom­ic loss or [3] to aid, abet, incite, com­pel or coerce any per­son to engage in any of the unlaw­ful dis­crim­i­na­to­ry prac­tices defined in this sec­tion .…

In sub­part (7)(A) above I have brack­et­ed the three spe­cif­ic caus­es of action (legal the­o­ries) which the Supreme Court said are dis­cernible in sub­part (7)(A). I have also bold­ed the sec­ond cause of action, which was the key cause of action at issue in the Michael case.

Con­tin­ue read­ing Leg­isla­tive Update: Insur­ance indus­try seeks amend­ment to West Vir­ginia Human Rights Act

Martin Luther King; His entire “I Have a Dream” speech

Today is the 47th Anniver­sary of Dr. Mar­tin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” giv­en on the steps of the Lin­coln Memo­r­i­al. We are now two gen­er­a­tions removed from that speech. Worse, we live in the age of MTV, Twit­ter, and 30-sec­ond sound­bites on the evening news. So all too often, we see only bite-sized snip­pets from Dr. King’s speech, so I want­ed to post the entire speech on this video from YouTube:

Click here for a site that has the tran­script, audio, and video of the speech.

The disastrous consequences of the N-word in the workplace. Just ask Dr. Laura!

Okay, this arti­cle has noth­ing to do with Dr. Lau­ra Sch­lessinger and her “rant” in which she used the N-word repeat­ed­ly on her radio pro­gram when respond­ing to an African-Amer­i­can caller. But the ensu­ing con­tro­ver­sy (see arti­cles for and against Dr. Lau­ra), and her deci­sion to end her long-run­ning radio pro­gram, high­light the extra­or­di­nary sig­nif­i­cance of the N-word term in Amer­i­can soci­ety.

The West Vir­ginia Supreme Court recent­ly dealt with the N-word in a case that high­lights the great risks for employ­ers when that word enters the work­place.

In PAR Elec­tri­cal Con­trac­tors, Inc. v. Bev­elle , — W. Va. –, — S.E.2d –, 2010 WL 2244096 (June 3, 2010) (per curi­am), the West Vir­ginia Supreme Court dealt with a claim of a racial­ly based hos­tile work envi­ron­ment under the West Vir­ginia Human Rights Act, and con­clud­ed that the West Vir­ginia Human Rights Com­mis­sion was jus­ti­fied in find­ing for the employ­ee. The deci­sion was unan­i­mous. Click here for the WV Human Rights Com­mis­sion’s deci­sion which was affirmed by the WV Supreme Court.

A Sin­gle Day, With the N-Word Again and Again

PAR Elec­tri­cal was build­ing “giant tow­ers” for a high volt­age elec­tri­cal trans­mis­sion line. Richard Wayne Bev­elle was hired by PAR Elec­tri­cal on March 22, 2005, and, after work­ing as a “ground­man” assem­bling the tow­er bases, was assigned to load heli­copters with parts to con­struct the tow­ers (this heli­copter job was described as a “gravy job” by the Human Rights Com­mis­sion). Mr. Bev­elle is African-Amer­i­can.

Con­tin­ue read­ing The dis­as­trous con­se­quences of the N-word in the work­place. Just ask Dr. Lau­ra!