Footnote 238

A stark example of this phenomenon that I encountered in mediation involved two employees dismissed for facilitating theft of company property (copper wire) by a third person, the brother of one of them. Both African-Americans, the plaintiffs contended that they did not commit the offense and would not have been terminated had they been white; they pointed to certain racist remarks made over the years by their supervisor. Observed in the act in a "sting" operation staffed by black security officers, they were clearly guilty--as, indeed, an arbitrator and the EEOC had already found. Not surprisingly, the latter had obtained evidence that the employer discharged people of all races whom they reasonably suspected of stealing. The workers, nonetheless, appeared sincerely outraged at their treatment and, at times, were even tearful. I was amazed that they could seemingly feel so victimized. They may have reasoned: "It's a rich company," or "Everyone takes a bit of wire." In their eyes, the salient wrong was likely the way they were treated on the job.