Have you ever gotten a job where everything seems perfect until you meet your boss for the first time? During that first encounter, your boss appears visibly disgusted and refuses to even shake your hand. More than just odd, it’s highly irregular. You later find out that your boss hates people who are the same race as you and has taken systematic steps to avoid hiring people like you.
No, this isn’t a hypothetical, and no, it’s not 1950s Alabama. It’s Washington, D.C. in 2010. Read on to learn more about what happened to an African American woman named Briggitta Hardin.
Briggitta Hardin v. Mick Dadlani and Redline
Briggitta Hardin was a student who applied for a bartending job at Redline, a brand new sports bar in Washington, D.C. During the application and interview process, Hardin only interacted with Redline employees and not the owner, Mick Dadlani.
It was on her first official day on the job that Hardin met Dadlani for the first time. When they met, Dadlani appeared visibly disgusted, refused to shake Hardin’s hand, and then walked away. Within hours, Hardin was fired.
According to other Redline employees, Dadlani was upset with the fact that Redline had hired an African American woman. After the incident with Hardin, Dadlani made it clear that he had to approve any new hires and that he only wanted to hire white blonde girls as his bartenders.
There were also other incidents where Dadlani made his racial preferences known. For example, Dadlani created fake guest lists to turn away patrons he found undesirable because of their race. Following an NBA game, Dadlani ordered his establishment to be closed early because several African American patrons managed to get inside.
Hardin sued Redline and Dadlani, alleging illegal racial discrimination under the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977 (DCHRA) and Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 (later amended and codified as 42 U.S.C. § 1981). We will briefly discuss each of these laws later in this article.
After a jury trial, Hardin was awarded $687,000 in damages: $175,000 in compensatory damages and $512,000 in punitive damages.
Compensatory damages are damages intended to compensate a plaintiff for an actual injury or loss sustained. Punitive damages are damages intended to punish a wrongdoer. It was clear that the jury found Dadlani’s behavior warranted punishment.
42 U.S.C. § 1981 and DC Human Rights Act of 1977
Title 42 Section 1981 of the United States Code is an updated and codified version of relevant portions of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which had the goal of fighting racial discrimination, in particular discrimination African Americans faced following the Civil War.
The DCHRA was intended by its creators to eliminate all discrimination, except for discrimination based on individual merit. As a consequence, the types of discrimination prohibited are very broad. Section 2-1401.11(a) specifically prohibits employers from firing an employee based on the employee’s race.
Based on the evidence and testimony at trial, the jury had no trouble finding that Dadlani had violated both the above federal and local laws when he fired Hardin because of her race.
For more information about wrongful termination on the basis of race or any other recognized trait, please visit the Wrongful Termination Resources page on our website.
Summing It Up
- Blatant racial discrimination still exists today, even in progressive and diverse metropolitan areas such as Washington, D.C.
- Federal and local laws, such as 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and the D.C. Human Rights Act of 1977, protect employees from racial discrimination and provide for compensatory and punitive damages for those who suffer from racial discrimination.