The controversy caught a lot of people by surprise, most notably, the Spokane Chapter. Amidst a flurry of activity over the weekend — just check your Facebook and Twitter feeds — Ms. Dolezal planned to address the issue at a monthly meeting tonight. However, the Spokane Chapter announced on its Facebook page that the meeting would be postponed “to continue discussion with regional and national NAACP leaders.”
Now, what if this discussion consummated in firing Ms. Dolezal? Would that be legal? Continue reading
An employee was caught on video saying to black employees, “Hey, did you bring enough KFC for everyone?” and “Hey, anybody smell that? I smell fried chicken and watermelon.” The company had a strict anti-harassment policy. So, after learning about the comments, the company fired the employee.
So, what would compel an Administrative Law Judge to require that the company reinstate him? Continue reading
Last year, I channelled Bill Clinton in this blog post about how courts rarely recognize a single incident or two as creating what the law deems a hostile work environment.
Yeah, about that.
Even a few isolated comments can create a hostile work environment.
In Boyer-Liberto v. Fontainebleu Corp. (opinion here), the full panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that two aggressive racial slurs made to an employee within a 24-hour period, may create a hostile work environment. (Here, the plaintiff, who is African-American, was twice called a “porch monkey.” And, each time, the harasser threatened the plaintiff).
Where do I find these cases, you ask?
Well, I sold my soul, and a stack of Billy Ripken baseball cards, to the devil a long time ago. I ain’t telling.
But seriously, this case isn’t so much about the particular facts…
- White employee tosses banana peels at work
- Black employees complain of racism
- Investigation ensues
- White employee is forced to resign
…as it is about making sure that all involved know why an employee is being fired, and can articulate those reasons consistently. Continue reading
About a year ago, I blogged here about a dreadful Sixth Circuit opinion, in which the court concluded that the plaintiff may have a discrimination claim for receiving the specific transfer he requested (after having interviewed for the position).
Now, if you read the comments on my post, you’ll see that some of my readers took issue with my analysis of the case.
Well, I see your comments and raise you a scathing Justice Alito dissent from the United States Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari:
The decision of the Sixth Circuit in this case–holding that respondent suffered an adverse employment action when his employer transferred him to a position for which he had applied–qualifies for review under that standard. Indeed, the holding of the court below is so clearly wrong that summary reversal is warranted. The strangeness of the Court of Appeals’ holding may lead this Court to believe that the holding is unlikely to figure in future cases, but the decision, if left undisturbed, will stand as a binding precedent within the Sixth Circuit….The decision of the court below is unprecedented and clearly contrary to the statutes on which respondent’s claims are based.
You have an employee handbook, an anti-harassment policy, training, the whole nine.
But, sometimes, notwithstanding your best efforts to create a positive, respectful workplace, you receive a complaint from an employee who claims to be the victim of harassment based on [insert protected class].
All the prophylactic measures you’ve already installed mean nothing unless you respond to that complaint appropriately.
See how one company did it right, after the jump…