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11th Circuit Finds Banana Peel Potential Evidence of Bias

Per NJLJ, in Jones v. UPS Ground Freight, No. 11-10416:

"A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has ruled unanimously that banana peels can be evidence of racial harassment supporting an employment discrimination claim by an African-American man.

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"William Acker Jr., a senior U.S. district judge in the Northern District of Alabama, granted summary judgment to UPS in December 2010. Acker said Jones' treatment was not sufficiently severe and pervasive to constitute a hostile working environment, concluding "there is nothing inherently racist about a banana, absent direct supporting evidence."

"But Ripple wrote that the appellate panel had "no difficulty" concluding that the evidence created a jury question on the banana issue. Quoting language used by the Third and Seventh Circuits, Ripple wrote, "it has become easier to coat various forms of discrimination with the appearance of propriety because the threat of liability takes that which was once overt and makes it subtle."

"Ripple wrote that Jones' version of events suggested the bananas were not appearing on his truck by mere chance: Jones said he found bananas on his truck on multiple occasions, they were always in one of two places on the truck even though he parked it in a different location each night, and there's no evidence that bananas were found on any other truck or that Jones found any other trash on his truck. Ripple added that UPS could make to a jury its argument that it was just as likely the bananas had nothing to do with Jones or his race."

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