My Turn: Employment Lawyers Association chapter agrees: Black lives matter

For the Monitor
Published: 6/24/2020 6:00:13 AM

‘You get treated like an animal,” Rayshard Brooks stated in a 2019 interview regarding his experiences in the criminal justice system. “Some of the system could look at us as individuals; we do have lives, you know.”

Black lives matter. Mr. Brooks, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor have all recently given their lives to teach our society a truth that we still, somehow, have not learned.

The New Hampshire Chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association agrees that Black lives matter and promotes this truth as a core part of its mission. Lives depend not only upon the ability to draw a breath without a police officer’s knee bearing down on your neck, but also upon the ability to draw a paycheck without a supervisor harassing you or firing you because he does not like the color of your skin.

Racial discrimination continues to infect our nation’s workplaces, in many forms. Black employees still shudder to find nooses hanging over their lockers or work stations, and they still cringe as co-workers target them with racial epithets, whether loudly snarled or uttered under the breath.

Black employees still suffer unwarranted workplace discipline, and still lose out on desirable work assignments, because their supervisors bear a bias they would never dare admit. Such supervisors still fire Black employees for “performance reasons,” even though their performance is comparable to the performance of their Caucasian co-employees, by objective standards.

The mission of NH NELA, and the lawyers who comprise it, is to eradicate illegal discrimination from our workplaces and to seek justice for those individuals harmed by it. In our daily work, we strive for the justice system that Rayshard Brooks envisioned – a justice system that recognizes African Americans as individuals with lives and that refuses to abide any police officer or employer that fails to acknowledge this fundamental truth.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” NH NELA is proud to to push that arc to justice, for so long as it takes.

(Benjamin T. King, Esquire, is a partner with the Concord law firm Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C., and serves as president of the New Hampshire Chapter of the National Employment Lawyers Association.)


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