A diversity manager working for an Oregon county settled a lawsuit, which alleged that he was fired for complaining about a police officer using the N-word during a training session. This case highlights the debate about whether it’s alright for instructors to use the racial slur in education environments.
Portland-based Multnomah County paid Emanuel Price $200,000 to move on from the lawsuit that he filed in March 2017, The Oregonian reported on Friday.
Price, who identifies as Black and Latino, was hired to promote multiculturalism and inclusion for the county’s Office of Diversity and Equity. The former employee claimed that the county fired him for doing his job.
Problems arose when Price observed Portland police Sgt. Tim Sessions conduct a presentation to the county’s Youth Commission in January 2016, the lawsuit said. While talking about examples of cyber bullying, Sessions shared a story about a Latino boy who had trouble pronouncing the N-word during an argument with an African-American boy. Sessions laughed as he repeated the mispronounced N-word, over and over.
“He made fun of the Mexican guy not being able to pronounce it,” Price told the newspaper after he filed his lawsuit, adding “It was just really ugly. It was terrible.”
The officer apologized but warned that he would likely use the slur in future presentations.
Many white people believe there’s nothing wrong with throwing around the N-word in education settings. Complaints from those offended by the racial slur often go ignored. In one case that captured widespread attention, Kansas University cleared assistant professor of communication studies Andrea Quenette in 2016 of violating policies against racial harassment and discrimination for using the N-word in class during a discussion on race.
County officials rejected Price’s claim that they terminated him as retribution for turning the situation into an issue, alleging instead that he had poor work attendance and failed to communicate with his supervisor.