Targeting White Supremacy in the Workplace


Resurgent white supremacy is leading to segregation in some workplaces and local labor markets, long after Title VII and executive orders dismantled Jim Crow. My research conceptualizes a new way to apply the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. Much of the law—passed to combat a white terror campaign to deny blacks and their political supporters rights equal to those of white citizens—has been struck down by court rulings. The surviving part, codified in 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3), is limited by its narrow text and Supreme Court rulings that have largely ignored congressional intent in passing this law. Using extensive legislative history, I show that Congress heard testimony from ex-Klan members about the group’s strategy to boycott black workers and segregate them in a caste system that approximated slavery. A major floor speech by Rep. Luke Poland emphasized congressional intent to interdict this economic segregation. I show the relevance of this history by analyzing four current and recent cases involving white supremacist planning and commission of acts to drive blacks, Mexicans, a Jew, and a Navajo from their workplace or a specific labor market. I demonstrate how these cases fit the demanding textual requirements to state a claim under Section 1985(3). In response to a growing number of conspiracies in a work setting to attack minorities, this study provides victims, lawyers, and courts a new way to confront today’s resurgent and aggressive white supremacy movement.


Stanford University Stanford, California
  • Michael H. LeRoy, Targeting White Supremacy in the Workplace, 29 Stan. L. & Pol'y Rev. 107 (2018).
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