Question: Irma Rivera is a Hispanic woman who was born in
Irma Rivera is a Hispanic woman who was born in Puerto Rico. She began working for Baccarat, Inc. (Baccarat), a distributor of fine crystal, as a sales representative in its retail store in Manhattan. Eight years later, Rivera was the top sales representative at the Baccarat store. Jean Luc Negre became the new president of Baccarat, with ultimate authority for personnel decisions. Subsequently, Negre angrily told Rivera that he did not like her attitude and that he did not want her to speak Spanish on the job. Ms. Rivera testified that during her one faceto face meeting with Mr. Negre, he specifically stated that he did not like her accent. Six months later, Dennis Russell, the chief financial officer of Baccarat, notified Rivera that Negre had made a decision to terminate her. Rivera pressed Russell to tell her why she was being fired. According to Rivera, he replied, “Irma, he doesn’t want Hispanics.” Negre also terminated Ivette Brigantty, another Hispanic sales representative. Evidence showed that Rivera and Brigantty were terminated because of their accent when speaking English. The store retained its non Hispanic salesperson. Rivera sued Baccarat for national origin discrimination, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Has Baccarat engaged in unlawful national origin discrimination? Rivera v. Baccarat, Inc., 10 F. Supp. 2d 318, 1998 U. S. Dist. Lexis 9099 (United States District Court for the Southern District of New York)
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