Most in Kansas City might assume race discrimination to be subtle, with those accused of engaging in it looking for backhanded ways to impede the progress of others due to their race or nationality. Yet consistent criticisms of one’s struggles may also be viewed as discriminatory in certain situations. Consider one for whom English is his or her second language. A degree of understanding should be afforded knowing that he or she is not a native speaker. He or she may also be expected to allow listeners the chance to politely ask for clarification on things he or she says. It is when politeness is forgotten that discrimination may begin.
That is what appears to have been case in the treatment of a former engineer with the Ford Motor Company. The man (who hails from Lebanon) had been recognized as a top achiever in the company. Yet a subsequent assignment under the direction of a new supervisor caused his working conditions to deteriorate. The new supervisor reportedly constantly complained about not being to understand what the man was saying because of his accent, to the point of being openly hostile towards him. Another supervisor also began offer his own criticisms of the man’s speech. The man complained to the company’s human resources department, but was placed on a retaliatory performance plan, with one of the recommendations made by the aforementioned supervisor being that he take English as a Second Language classes. The treatment got so bad that the man eventually took a medical leave due to stress. He was fired shortly thereafter.
Ultimately, the man was able to win a $16.8 million award through a discrimination lawsuit. Those looking to initiate such an action after enduring similar treatment may first want to confer with an attorney.
Source: Detroit Free Press “Ex-Ford engineer who was belittled, criticized wins $16.8M lawsuit” Gross, Allie, Apr. 03, 2018