*If a Black person uses the “n-word” in an integrated work environment is it acceptable. But suppose it is used by a white person in the same work environment, is that unacceptable? Those two questions are essentially the ones which will be decided by a Philadelphia jury starting next Tuesday, January 18th.
The case centers on a lawsuit filed by former Fox 29 reporter-anchor Tom Burlington. Burlington, who is white, used the word during a June 2007 meeting as staff members were discussing a story about the symbolic burial of the “n-word” by the Philadelphia Youth Council of the NAACP.
Burlington was fired within days after a story about his use of the word appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News. Burlington is arguing that he is a victim of racial discrimination and a double standard because “at least two” African American employees at the television station used the word in the workplace and were not disciplined. He says he was fired because he is a white person using a word frequently used by Blacks.
There were six whites and three Blacks present at the staff meeting in which the word was used. Burlington said he used the word only once but the Daily News story said he used it over a dozen times.
In allowing the case to go to trial, federal Judge R. Barclay Surrick said the jury must decide whether Burlington was a “victim of political correctness run amok” or a victim of “his own poor judgment.”