A supervisor calling an employee that word wasn’t proof of an abusive environment, Barrett wrote.
A report from The Independent notes that just last year, serving on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett wrote an opinion upholding the dismissal of Smith v. Illinois Department of Transportation, a case in which fired Black state employee Terry Smith filed a workplace discrimination lawsuit. Among Smith’s assertions is that Lloyd Colbert, his White supervisor, called him the n-word.
Smith didn’t make a strong enough case that harassment was occurring, Barrett asserted.
“The n-word is an egregious racial epithet. That said, Smith can’t win simply by proving that the word was uttered,” she wrote. “He must also demonstrate that Colbert’s use of this word altered the conditions of his employment and created a hostile or abusive working environment.