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Fighting over WordsLanguage and Civil Law Cases$
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Roger W. Shuy

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195328837

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195328837.001.0001

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Retaliatory Termination Discrimination

Retaliatory Termination Discrimination

David E. Benekritis v. Renny Earl Johnson and the Darlington County School District

Chapter:
(p.161) CHAPTER 15 Retaliatory Termination Discrimination
Source:
Fighting over Words
Author(s):

Roger W. Shuy (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195328837.003.0016

A high school math teacher, recently hired by a school system, was assigned a “mentor/supervisor,” who invited the new teacher to a pick-up basketball game. The teacher claimed that, during this game, his mentor made physical sexual advances to him. The police and the school subsequently dismissed all charges but they discovered what they thought was false information on the new teacher's application form to a school where he had taught in the past, and the school fired him. The teacher then sued the school system for retaliatory discrimination. The issue was over the virgule on the application form, which read: “Have you ever been dismissed/non-renewed from any employment?” Semantic and syntax analysis were used to show the different meanings of “dismissed” and “non-renewed.” The meaning of the virgule was addressed. Finally, the linguist revised the application form so that the apparent intended meanings of the question could be clarified.

Keywords:   retaliatory discrimination, virgule, semantics, syntax, application, virgule

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