“Waterboy” a Protected Category

By John Alan Doran

Adam Sandler fans will recall his Oscar-worthy starring role in the movie “The Waterboy,” in which he played a habitually-bullied waterboy for a college football team. Sandler played the part with an extremely pronounced Cajun accent. Little could Sandler have known when he made this gem back in 1998 that his character, Bobby Boucher, enjoyed protected category status under Title VII. However, a federal court recently ruled that Cajuns are sufficiently distinctive to be protected from discrimination under Title VII. Bourgeois v. U.S. Coast Guard (W.D. La. 2015)  The trial court found that Cajuns enjoy a distinct culture, and a distinctive linguistic pattern and accent that makes them unique within the class of White employees. The case is an important reminder to think outside the box with respect to protected categories– the employee you think poses no risk under Title VII may very well enjoy protected status at the end of the day. And now, we close with this moving exchange from “The Waterboy”:

Dan Fouts: The waterboy just needed some water!
Brent Musburger: Wow, Dan, did you come with that all by yourself?
Dan Fouts: Shut up, Brent.