• Reports

Civil Rights in Their Own Voices: Situated Justice

March 2012

The Employment Civil Rights Project is generating findings on the changing dynamics of employment discrimination litigation, the types of cases that succeed in litigation, and the parties’ perceptions of anti-discrimination law. The first publication using the qualitative data from this project, “Situated Justice: A Contextual Analysis of Fairness and Inequality in Employment Discrimination Litigation,” by Ellen Berrey, Steve G. Hoffman, and Laura Beth Nielsen, was published in the Law & Society Review in March 2012. Readers can listen to some of the audio clips from the interviews to hear the data in respondents’ “own voices” (literally). The 22 audio clips below are listed in the order they appear in the article.

Please note that the text of the quoted passages may be shorter than the audio clips and may be edited so that they are easier to read. All names used are pseudonyms.

Quote #1, Harold Ward

White, malein-house counsel and human resources officer for a manufacturing company

“You know what?  If you want to sue me, sue me. Lots of people have sued me. You won’t be the first, and you probably won’t be the last. But there’s some things you need to understand. You need to understand that I have a job and I get paid every day. And your lawsuit is just a job to me.  Do I want to win?  I want to win everything I do. I am a Type A, competitive person. But if I don’t win, my world doesn’t stop. And I still get paid.”

Quote #2, Don Gale

White, male, in-house counsel for a research company

“Most cases, I don’t say they’re totally frivolous . . . I really don’t believe any of our cases [were cases] where the other side had sufficient merit.”


Quote #3, Nicole Price

White, female, general counsel for a health care non-profit

“Often times it’s somebody may have made a remark to somebody that that person took offense to … We have tended to be very successful on those because a lot of people don’t understand.  They take it to extremes, you know.  They hear one remark and … get very upset or they feel like they can’t tell their supervisor, so they’ll actually file a complaint, but those typically aren’t going to be found to be discriminatory… Yelling at an employee is not discrimination, but, you know, some people believe that it should be.”   

Quote #4, Marilyn Cole

White, female, in-house counsel and corporate officer for a finance corporation

“Here’s what I hear from our managers, who’ve been involved in these situations, is that they complain to me that the system isn’t fair.  That we have to hire these attorneys and we have to pay this money and…go through this process and the employee has no skin in the game. And if, you know, if they lose, then it doesn’t seem fair that they shouldn’t have to pay.”

Quote #5, David Lever

White, male, in-house counsel for a transportation company

“I’ve never seen overt discrimination. I think it is something that does still happen, but I think it’s pretty unusual, pretty rare. I’ve questioned managers at times… “Are you sure [that discrimination did not occur]?”…I think that 98, 99% of the time, [discrimination did not occur].”

Quote #6, Don Gale

White, male, in-house counsel for a research organization

“The management’s position is if the misconduct or the bad performance is established, whatever disciplinary action is appropriate will be taken.”

Quote #7, Kristin Hamilton

African-American, female, chemist

“I went [to the company’s internal EEO office], and of course they said they were going to investigate, but how do you investigate yourself? … There’s not an outside [agency] doing it. They’re [the employer is] doing it.  So then I did go to EEOC and filed a complaint, and then that’s when they gave me the letter to sue.”