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Not Funny: Comedian’s Racist, Sexist Jokes Create Claims

By Michael Homans
May 2024

Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again none like this CEO.

In Coffman v. Grand View Health Foundation, LLC, decided last month in federal court in Philadelphia, the former Chief Financial Officer of this hospital system claimed as follows: she warned the CEO about the raunchy material of a comedian the CEO had hired to perform at a company retreat. He ignored her warnings, allowed the comedian to do his schtick at the retreat, and sure enough the comedian impersonated black people, recited racial stereotypes and tropes, and impersonated prostitutes in Kensington, Pa. The CFO and other employees complained after the performance that it was racist and sexist, and the CFO suggested an apology to the workforce, but the CEO again refused. 

Two months later, the CEO fired the CFO on grounds that she disputes. She claimed it was in retaliation for her reasonable, good-faith complaints that the comedian’s performance created a hostile work environment for females and minorities.

Judge Savage ruled April 9 that the CFO could proceed with her retaliation claim and a jury will have to determine which version of the facts and inferences to believe.

One thing is clear, this was a lawsuit that easily could have been avoided if the CEO had exercised some basic common sense, listening skills, and good judgment, and not proceeded with the idiocy of hiring a comedian known to use racist and sexist material for a work retreat.

The next time you are tempted to do something stupid and off-color at work, remember this case and the fallout.

Michael Homans is an employment lawyer and litigator based in Philadelphia and Wayne, Pennsylvania. He can be reached at or (215) 419-7477.

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