A truck driver has been denied unemployment compensation in Pennsylvania this week after being fired for using a racial slur to describe both himself and others.
The incident happened back in March of 2017, when truck driver Stephen Kraft was fired, but Kraft did not appear before a court to appeal for unemployment compensation until this week of June 11th, 2018.
According to Penn Live News Kraft, a Caucasian male, was fired last March for telling a black trainee that Kraft himself was “N****r number one,” a white supervisor was “N****r number two,” and that the trainee “could be N****r number three.”
Kraft was then fired for violating the anti-harassment policy held by his employer, Allen Distribution, which bans the use of racial slurs, demeaning jokes, negative stereotypes and even nicknames.
Kraft had worked for Allen Distribution for 12 years, but was deemed ineligible for jobless aid because he had committed “willful misconduct,” by violating the harassment policy. Kraft then appealed to the court by pointing out that he feels he was discriminated against by being fired while other employees known to use racial slurs remain employed.
Although Kraft was denied unemployment compensation 2 to 1, the presiding senior judge did not agree with the outcome, and thought the issue was instead that the employer had chosen to fire Kraft after ignoring racial slurs used by other employees.
“The issue in this case in not whether it is acceptable for an employee to ever use racial slurs. It never is,” wrote Senior Judge Dan Pellegrini.
“The issue is not whether an employer can discharge an employee for using a racial slur. It can. The issue…is whether an employee commits willful misconduct by using a racial slur when the employer has tolerated racial slurs in the past.”
Upon investigation, Pellegrini discovered through the testimonials of company executives that Allen Distribution had never before fired someone for the use of racial slurs, despite their use being against the company’s anti-harassment policies.
“That supposed lack of enforcement should therefore have negated the finding that Kraft committed willful misconduct. Simply, an unenforced work rule is not a work rule but a piece of paper,” Pellegrini wrote.