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I am White. I got fired from my job because "I don't talk Black enough" by my black boss. Can I sue under employment law?

Baltimore, MD |

I am White. I got fired from my job because "I don't talk Black enough" by my black boss. Can I sue under employment law?

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Attorney answers 6


You would first have to file a complaint with the EEOC. They will investigate, and if they find actionable discrimination, you will then be provided the paperwork allowing you to sue in civil court. You can not just file a lawsuit before going through the EEOC. You can also get a consultation with a Plaintiff employment law attorney. Man give free consultations. Check beforehand. Other than this site, your local bar association is a good referral source.

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There are a lot of questions that would have to be answered, but you should consult qualified counsel on this. To say that you are not talking enough like a particular race or ethnic group is tantamount to admitting discriminatory motive. I recommend that you speak to counsel before you go to the EEOC or the Maryland Commission, and let your counsel help you draft your charges after learning all the details.

This is not formal legal advice.


More facts would be needed, but based on what you provide, it certainly sounds like you are a victim of employment discrimination and would have a claim. State law may permit you to bring a claim immediately, but if you sought to pursue your federal claims (Title VII) you would have to first file with the EEOC. It would be advisable for you to contact a local employment attorney to discuss this matter in more detail with them.

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The responses you have received here are all about how to go forward with a legal claim. But you need advice about whether you should do that. What you have posted is NOT per se evidence of unlawful discrimination and you need to develop your factual theory far more if you have any hope of surviving the gauntlet of legal process.

What did you understand the employer to mean by that statement? There are a number of possibilities and some of them will not support a discrimination claim. To require that speech -- vocabulary, slang, idiom, grammar-- be "black enough" is not necessarily application of a race criteria. It may be an unsuccessful description of a quality of communication skills necessary to your employer no matter the race of the employee at issue. For example, if you were hired to organize and supervise recreational activities at a park in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, you would need to understand the local slang and idiom and to be able to use it for effectively communicating with the end-users of your employer's service. You would need this knowledge and skill no matter what your race or national origin. And no employee has to be black in order to develop that kind and degree of communications skills. There is nothing unlawfully discriminatory about the fact that some employer service and goods are marketed to certain identifiable demographic segments of the population. And an employer may hire and fire based on employee skills for communicating with those markets.

Now,all of this may be wholly beside the point of your individual circumstance. You have posted none of the facts, circumstances or details that allow skilled and experienced attorneys to comment reliably on whether you have a potentially sound claim for race discrimination. But my point is that you need to delve into that issue. Don't rely on quick and dirty generalizations. The law doesn't apply on the basis of quick and dirty generalizations -- knee jerk answers -- and those kinds of analyses won't be useful to you in any legal effort.

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If you got terminated for the reason that you state, ie, b/c "you dont talk black enough," that is perse discrimination under Title VII and the MD Civil Rights Act b/c of race. Its like me telling a female employee, you are being fired, or not being hired, b/c you are not a man, or that you need to wear more lipstick! The latter comment is a sexual sterotype and under the seminal case law of Pricewaterhouse v. Hopkins an absolute violation of Title VII. File a complaint at the EEOC. You have a case. It will be discrimination based on race. Its the equivalent of me telling a black employee that you are being terminated b/c you are not white enough. Title VII protects all employees.


You would need more facts for an opinion on whether a claim would be viable, but generally, yes, you can file an EEOC claim for this type of behavior alleging discrimination on the basis of your race. I suggest you contact an attorney in your area as soon as possible to assist you with this matter. Also, please be mindful of strict filing deadlines. I have provided a link below where you can learn more about how much time you have to file a claim.

This response is my opinion based on limited information. This does not constitute legal advice, nor does it form an attorney-client relationship. I am licensed to practice law solely in the State of Georgia. Please consult an attorney in your state to obtain legal advice.

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