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The Nth Degree: Examining Intra-Racial Use of the N-Word in Employment Discrimination Cases

64 DePaul Law Review 65 (2015)

48 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2017  

Abigail Perdue

Wake Forest School of Law

Gregory Scott Parks

Wake Forest University - School of Law

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

Although strikingly different opinions on use of the N-word have provoked much debate, the conclusions reached in Johnson and Weatherly — that intraracial use of the N-word can create a racially hostile work environment — are correct because they comport with the longstanding legal recognition of intraracial, same-sex, and third-party associative employment discrimination. The shameful historical legacy of the N-word underscores the extent to which a reasonable person of any race would likely object to its use at the workplace, even if the speaker is black. Furthermore, social science research indicates that black individuals’ implicit antiblack biases may lead to ill-intended use of the N-word against other blacks. Finally, applying the same objective standard to intraracial and interracial use of the Nword, regardless of the speaker’s intent, promotes fairness, consistency, and judicial efficiency.

Keywords: Intraracial employment discrimination

Suggested Citation

Perdue, Abigail and Parks, Gregory Scott, The Nth Degree: Examining Intra-Racial Use of the N-Word in Employment Discrimination Cases (2015). 64 DePaul Law Review 65 (2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3004666

Abigail Perdue

Wake Forest School of Law ( email )

2601 Wake Forest Road
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States

HOME PAGE: http://law.wfu.edu/faculty/profile/perduea/

Gregory Parks (Contact Author)

Wake Forest University - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 7206
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
United States
3367582170 (Phone)

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