U.S. top court rejects worker harassment case

Oct 1 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider an appeal by a white dockworker seeking to hold his employer responsible for harassment by co-workers for his having picketed on behalf of minority employees.

John Ketterer complained that white co-workers at the Yellow Transportation Inc terminal in Dallas subjected him to harassment including obscene slurs, circling him in a threatening way and throwing a lit firecracker at him for his support of black and Hispanic co-workers. He also said he faced retaliation based in part on his having twice been fired, though later reinstated.

Ketterer and other employees sued Yellow, a unit of YRC Worldwide Inc , under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, but the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans and the Supreme Court rejected his claim.

The case would have been the second in the court's new term to address harassment in the workplace.

In a separate case, the court is expected to consider whether to hold Ball State University liable under Title VII for harassment by a supervisor. The issue is whether that liability applies to a supervisor who directs and oversees a victim's work, or only a supervisor with authority to take job actions such as firing, demotions and discipline.

The case is Ketterer v. Yellow Transportation Inc, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 11-1361.

(Reporting By Terry Baynes and Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

((terry.baynes@thomsonreuters.com)(+1 646 223 8022)(Reuters Messaging: terry.baynes.reuters.com@thomsonreuters.net))