College of Media | News

Benson serves as expert in racial harassment case

11/6/2012  9:00 am

Chris Benson, associate professor of journalism and associate dean of the College of Media, recently served as an expert in a New Jersey case of alleged racial harassment involving the display of a hangman's noose in the workplace.

The case, Gregory Moore v. Red Bank Volvo, involved allegations of systemic racial harassment, including the display of a noose near the plaintiff's work space and a silhouetted caricature with a noose inside a restroom.

Benson produced a memorandum discussing the meaning of a hangman's noose to African Americans, setting out the historical context of spectacle lynching and the effect of wide media coverage of contemporary incidents at job sites and on college campuses.  He also discussed the noose as a narrative text for a history of African American subordination in the allocation of rank, privilege and power.  

The case was successfully resolved in pretrial mediation.   

Benson served as an expert witness in Barbee v. Christy Foltz, a 2010 federal noose case in which the African American plaintiff won punitive damages, and he has been asked to serve as an expert in a similar case arising in the State of Hawaii.