August 16, 2003 8:13 PM
Black sues black for racism. “Dwight Burch, a former [Applebee’s] employee, accused his manager at the Jonesboro, Ga., restaurant of repeatedly referring to him as a ‘tar baby’ and ‘Black monkey’ during his three months at the restaurant.” Here’s the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission press release about the lawsuit (settled out of court for $40,000). The EEOC calls the case “rare”; BET says it’s “increasingly common”. But wait a minute: since black males make it a point to call each other “nigger”, how can you tell self-deprecating camaraderie from self-loathing colorism?
Posted August 14, 2003 — In an increasingly common racial discrimination case, a Black man won a settlement against another Black man for being degraded because of his skin color.
A dark-skinned Black waiter at an Applebee’s restaurant near Atlanta alleged that his light-skinned Black supervisor was discriminating against him. To settle the suit, the company paid him $40,000.
Dwight Burch, a former employee, accused his manager at the Jonesboro, Ga., restaurant of repeatedly referring to him as a “tar baby” and “Black monkey” during his three months at the restaurant. Burch also alleged in his suit that his manager told him to bleach his skin and that he was fired when he threatened to report the man to officials at Applebee’s headquarters.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission helped settle the “color discrimination” lawsuit, saying that such cases are on the rise. The number of cases involving allegations of skin-tone discrimination jumped from 413 in fiscal year 1994 to 1,382 in 2002, according to the EEOC. About 20 of the complaints filed during that time period have led to lawsuits, while most of the rest have been settled out of court. They currently comprise roughly 3 percent of the 85,000 cases the agency gets annually.
Burch experienced what Black scholars refer to as “colorism,” discrimination within the Black community that goes back to the days of slavery in the United States, when Blacks with lighter complexions often received better treatment, such as less-demanding jobs and work in the master’s house, while those with darker skin had to toil in the fields.
In a statement, the EEOC noted that Applebee’s has added a protection against skin-tone discrimination to its anti-discrimination policies. Applebee’s also agreed to provide employees cultural sensitivity training and to report any similar complaints of discrimination at its Georgia restaurants for the next year and a half.
Frank Ybarra, a spokesman for the restaurant chain, said in a statement that “No one should have to put up with mean and humiliating comments about the color of their skin on the job…. It makes no difference that these comments are made by someone of your own race. Actually, that makes it even worse.” The statement also said the company denied the allegations but settled the case to clear the way for the sale of its Atlanta-area restaurants.