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Ash v. Tyson Foods, Inc. (U.S. Supreme Court)

Posted in Discrimination

Two African-American employees were denied promotions in the defendant’s food processing plant that were ultimately awarded to two Caucasians. Among the proof of discrimination they offered was the fact that their supervisor used the term “boy” in referring to them. The Court of Appeals held that this term was insufficient to show racial bias.

Held: The Court of Appeals erred in laying down a per se rule that the term “boy” cannot constitute evidence of racial bias. Instead, that term first would have to be understood in the context in which it was used, including its historical usage, its usage in the workplace, the familiarity between the parties, etc. On remand, the Eleventh Circuit nevertheless reached the same result as before, finding that the plaintiffs’ evidence of discriminatory intent remained insufficient as a matter of law.