EEOC v. Evans Fruit Co., Inc.

Korematsu Center Civil Rights Amicus Clinic Challenges In-Group Racial Reference in Closing Argument

On April 7, 2014, the Korematsu Center’s Civil Rights Amicus Clinic filed a proposed amicus brief in EEOC v. Evans Fruit Co., Inc., a sexual harassment case now pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, along with three individual Latina farmworkers as Intervenors-Plaintiffs, brought federal and state law claims alleging sexual harassment by their ranch foreman, as well as negligence in Evans Fruit’s supervision and retention of the foreman. During closing argument, defense counsel argued, among other things, that plaintiffs were trying to take money from “rich white people,” referring to the owners of Evans Fruit, which, the brief argues, invited the all-white jury to look more favorably upon Evans Fruit and its owners than on the Latina plaintiffs.  

The proposed brief presents defense counsel’s remark in the context of social science research discussing implicit bias and in-group favoritism. Implicit bias is widely recognized by social scientists, judges, legal scholars, and practitioners, but that recognition has not yet been incorporated fully by the courts. Recognizing that implicit racism is just as damaging as more recognizable forms of racism, the brief illuminates another way in which appeals to race compromise the integrity of legal proceedings.

The brief was drafted by Civil Rights Amicus Clinic students Anreeka Patel and Stacy Smith under the supervision of Korematsu Center Executive Director Bob Chang and Staff Attorney Jessica Levin. 

The brief may be found here.