President Donald Trump’s tweet telling four Democratic congresswomen to “go back” to “the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came” was quite literally textbook racism.
Federal law as enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission counts discrimination based on nation of origin as one of several kinds of prohibited discrimination.
One example the EEOC lists on its website matches nearly word-for-word the President’s tweets.
“Examples of potentially unlawful conduct include insults, taunting, or ethnic epithets, such as making fun of a person’s foreign accent or comments like, “Go back to where you came from.”
Highlighting the EEOC’s language Tuesday, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) wrote, “The President’s bigoted words are so contrary to who we are as a country that we literally have laws against them.”
In other words, if an employer had tweeted what Trump did at his or her employees, that employer could face a lawsuit.
In a post on his website Tuesday, the Connecticut-based employment lawyer Daniel Schwartz listed several legal battles that specifically involved taunts like Trump’s.
One plaintiff who won a jury verdict against her employer recalled being told, “Speak English. Go back to your own country if you want to speak Spanish. You’re in our country.”
In another case before the Fifth Circuit, a co-worker of the plaintiff had told him, “Why don’t you just go back where you came from since you believe what you believe?”
“Suffice to say that using language in the workplace that employees should ‘go back to their country’ or words to those effect can and will be used as a basis of employment discrimination claims,” Schwartz wrote. “I never thought I’d say this, but following the President’s words can lead employers to big trouble.”
Even though Trump’s attacks on the four congresswomen of color — three of whom were actually born in the U.S. — amount to textbook discrimination, the President’s allies in the Republican party have declined to call him out.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Tuesday that Trump “is not a racist,” and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) dodged questions on the President’s tweets, saying that Trump had “clarified” his comments.