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Race Discrimination Rejected in Appeals Court


John Hithon, an African-American male, and former employee of a food plant, brought suit against his former employer alleging race discrimination. Hithon, who possessed 13 years of experience on the job, was passed over for a shift supervisor position by his manager, who was white, in favor of two white candidates from other plants.

Evidence admitted at trial consisted of statements made by the manager routinely calling black employees "boy." The first jury found in Hithon's favor, awarding him $1 million. The decision was later reversed by the 11th circuit. The Court reasoned that: "The use of 'boy' when modified by a racial classification like 'black' or 'white' is evidence of discriminatory intent . . ., the use of 'boy' alone is not evidence of discrimination."

The case then went to the United States Supreme Court which reversed and remanded for trial, stating that the inquiry should involve the context in which the statement was made. A new, second jury returned a verdict in Hithon's favor, but the Appellate Court, once again, reversed.

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