Court: Woman Fired Because She Is ‘Not Black Enough’

A Canadian woman has been awarded monetary damages after an arbitrator found that she was fired for not being Black enough.

Source:  Albert Lin/Diversity Inc

Rachel Brothers, who is biracial, worked as a Regional Educator for the Black Educators Association’s office in Kentville, Nova Scotia, in 2006 for 11 months before she was fired that December.

In a ruling released by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, Board of Inquiry Chair Donald Murray determined that Brothers was the victim of workplace discrimination. He ordered that the BEA compensate Brothers $11,000 Canadian, plus 18 months’ worth of interest, for general damages and loss of income.

Murray wrote in his decision that Brothers “had been successfully undermined in her employment by one of her subordinates: Catherine Collier. It is clear to me that Ms. Brothers was undermined in part because she was younger than, and not as Black as, Ms. Collier thought that Ms. Brothers should be.” Collier had lost out on the job that went to Brothers, but as a longer-tenured employee, she had the ear of the BEA’s leadership.

Brothers testified that Collier told her that her skin color would present a problem with the Black community served by the BEA, because Brothers couldn’t “officially represent them” because she “wasn’t Black enough.” Brothers’ assistant also testified that Collier asked her, “Are you even Black?” Murray called Collier’s behavior “appalling.”

Ultimately, Murray concluded that Acting Executive Director Jacqueline Smith-Herriott—who is also biracial—was aware that insensitive comments were being made and did nothing about it. “Her actions,” Murray wrote, “demonstrated that her office was persistently deaf when those concerns involved Ms. Brothers or Ms. Brothers’ assistant.”

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