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Worker allowed to sue for race discrimination

An appellate court has ruled that a Michigan road worker can sue his former employer for race discrimination for putting him in a dangerous position even though the employee had applied for the position months earlier. In 2009, the worker was appointed to be equipment supervisor at Kalamazoo County Road Commission. He had applied for the job several months earlier.

After he was placed in the position, he lasted less than a year before going on medical leave and never returning. The worker said that he suffered from headaches and bronchitis while on the job and was constantly battling soot that had accumulated in his nostrils and throat. He finally left the position due to his health problems and conflict with his superiors.

The Hispanic worker then filed suit against the company, claiming he was placed in the position out of discrimination. In a far-reaching decision, two of the three judges on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that he should have the opportunity to file suit. One of the judges said that the man's working conditions sounded intolerable. The dissenting judge said that he could not see how a person could claim to be discriminated by being placed in a job he had applied for.

A labor law expert said that the details of the case were very unusual. She added that although he had applied for the job earlier, he hadn't applied when he was transfer and that the change was to an extremely unpleasant position. Discrimination and employment law cases are rarely simple and clear-cut. There are often numerous complexities and technical aspects. An employment law attorney could help an individual determine whether their discrimination suit has merit and then advocate on their behalf in any hearings or courtroom appearances.

Source: SF Gate, "New legal bar set in case of road worker's job", Ed White, January 20, 2014

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