A woman who claimed her former employer defamed her by suggesting that she printed a racial slur on a receipt can sue for defamation, an appeals court ruled Friday.
The woman, who worked at the Journeys shoe store in Oak Park Mall, was at the center of an October 2008 incident during which an African-American customer was handed a printed return receipt bearing a racial slur.
Though the woman printed and handed the receipt to the customer, an investigation later determined that another employee had entered the slur into the store’s database. It popped up when, in a rush, the woman entered a generic telephone number into the system rather than getting the customer’s real phone number.
Before learning who actually entered the slur into the database, the company fired the woman.
Journey’s owner, Nashville-based Genesco Inc., never identified her by name in its press statements, but the woman claimed in her lawsuit that her reputation suffered, she was threatened and she had to move out of her apartment.
As proof of the damage to her reputation, she pointed to online comments posted to media articles about the episode.
A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that her case return to federal court in Kansas City for further consideration. A judge here had previously thrown out her defamation claim.