I was reading this case about an HR Manager of a dentistry practice.
Following an interview between a dentist in her practice and an African-American woman, the dentist allegedly commented to the HR Manager that the person would not be hired, as there were already too many blacks in Lewisville. The HR Manager then supposedly responded that “race is irrelevant.”
And, after the HR Manager told another member of management what had transpired, the manager stated that there were too many blacks in Lewisville and that they were ugly.
Shortly thereafter, the company sacked the HR Manager, to which she responded that her termination was retaliatory; i.e., for complaining about her former employer’s discriminatory actions.
In defending the lawsuit, the defendants first contended that the plaintiff had failed to establish that she had complained about discrimination.
Since, all that is required to demonstrate a complaint about discrimination is an understanding that the plaintiff is protesting discriminatory conduct, the plaintiff responded to the defendants’ argument,
“Like, duh.” that her discussion with management was to advise the company of the wrongness of the hiring dentist’s conduct and cause him to change his course of action.
Not surprisingly, the court accepted this argument.
Undeterred, the defendants argued that the plaintiff could not connect her comment to her termination. The plaintiff responded that the proximity in time between her comment and her termination would suffice. Further, she argued that the defendants’ reasons for firing her were pretextual, especially in light of Defendants’ chief financial officer’s statement that the plaintiff had been terminated because “she hired too many blacks.”
The defendants argued that it had a number of non-discriminatory performance-related reasons for terminating the plaintiff’s employment, and those may be true. However, allegations of racist statements attributed to multiple members of management is also a very good reason to settle a case.
And increase the sensitivity training budget.
(But then again, if the allegations in this particular case are true, I don’t know that any amount of training would fix such a systemic problem of prejudice).