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Employee Fails to Establish race bias on part of Union or Union Representative

An African American employee was terminated after it was determined that he was taking extended break periods and playing pornographic videos in the break room. Through his local union, he pursued a grievance and was represented at a hearing. The employee and his representative argued that other individuals had watched pornographic videos at work and that they had not been terminated, and referenced race-based comments which had been made by employees. After the committee denied his grievance, the employee filed a complaint against the representative and the union, claiming that they had violated 42 U.S.C. § 1981 by deliberately discriminating against him because of his race. The employee claimed that the representative had allegedly failed to argue at the hearing that the employee was terminated due to his race. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the lower court’s decision, finding that the employee did not establish that he was subjected to an adverse union action, and that he did not demonstrate that he was treated less favorably than employees of other races. The appellate court further found that the employee was properly represented at the grievance hearing, that he had ample opportunity to both present evidence and voice his concerns, and that the representative had, in fact, presented information relating to the race claim.

Wesley v. General Drivers, et al., No. 11-10120 (5th Cir. Oct. 5, 2011)

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