An employee who was allegedly fired for violating a company’s social media policy is going to have his day in court. And on this blog.
It’s very well settled law that accommodating a customer’s preference to be serviced by employees of a particular race is, well, racist. A few weeks ago, this situation arose with a Lowe’s store in Virginia. A CBS affiliate reported (here) that a white Lowe’s customer refused to accept a delivery from a black Lowe’s deliveryman. According to the report, the customer specifically asked Lowe’s not to send a black delivery person. The customer told the CBS affiliate that “she had the right to have whatever she wanted and she did not feel bad about making the request for a white driver.”
Unfortunately, the story indicates that the store manager accommodated the customer by sending out a white driver instead. However, after the incident was reported to corporate, the company issued a statement denouncing the “discriminatory delivery request” as “inconsistent with our diversity and inclusion core values.” Lowe’s also terminated the store manager’s employment.
Employers are responsible for taking reasonable steps to maintain a workplace that is free from discrimination and unlawful harassment. Responsible companies have handbooks, policies, and training to help accomplish this. But, just remember that folks like customers, vendors, and the like are part of the workplace too. So, remind your workforce — especially your managers and supervisors — not to tolerate behavior that wouldn’t otherwise be condoned if displayed by an employee.
Image Credit: “2008-11-10 Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse in Chapel Hill” by Ildar Sagdejev (Specious) – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Commons.
Earlier this year, Kelly Osbourne walked out on E!’s Fashion Police shortly after her co-host, Giuliana Rancic, criticized a young African-American Disney star. Specifically, Ms. Rancic called out the actress for donning dreadlocks at the 2015 Oscars, saying that she must have smelled of “patchouli” and “weed.” Many found Ms. Rancic’s comments racist. Ms. Osbourne too must have been affected, because she told People Magazine that she left Fashion Police because she was not “going to sit there and perpetuate evilness.”
Fast forward several months. Continue reading
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.