Thursday, July 17, 2008

Discrimination comes to NASCAR

Well, it's probably always been there but now the organization is being called on it. Mauricia Grant, a former inspection official and an African-American woman, filed a multimillion dollar lawsuit against NASCAR citing racial and gender discrimination and sexual harassment.
Dave Zirin's column, linked above, is the first I had heard about this case though I don't usually pay much attention to NASCAR. I do pay a lot of attention to cases of discrimination in sports though. Of course NASCAR has launched a campaign against Grant saying that she never reported any of the incidents she cites in the lawsuit (and they include some lovely name-calling and incidents in which men exposed themselves to her; why do men find this an effective form of intimidation?).
And this is the problem with dealing with discrimination through the legal system (ok, one of many problems but this is the one I'm focusing in). When the burden for proof is on the oppressed person; someone who is likely to have been trying to make the best of a situation because she, say, actually likes her job and doesn't want to be run out of it by some wacko misogynist racists--it makes for a big he said/she said battle.
I don't know what kind of evidence Grant will be able to present. But my guess is that this case will not ever see a courthouse and that the details of a settlement--including the evidence Grant and her lawyers have accumulated beyond the initial complaint--may never make it to the public's ears if NASCAR, which needs its public, has anything to do about it.

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