According to reports, a pharmaceutical company fired one of its senior talent acquisition specialists last week after she appeared in a viral video on a New Jersey Transit train calling a small group of German men “f—ing immigrants and telling them to “get the f— out of our country.”
An employer spokesperson told the NY Post that the company “has a zero-tolerance policy around prejudicial or discriminatory behavior.” The spokesperson added that “after conducting a review of the circumstances, we acted immediately and terminated the employee in question.”
The company apologized to those the incident impacted and denounced the former employee’s actions and words.
On Friday, the Daily Mail, which first reported the incident, posted an “exclusive” that the same woman had also been accused of xenophobic abuse of a boss by telling him he’s a ‘Scottish piece of s***.’ The source who provided this information to the Daily Mail described the woman as an ‘HR nightmare’ whom colleagues dreaded dealing with.
Sounds like it.
Not only was the person whose job it was to hire people caught on video spewing xenophobia, but apparently, her prejudice also spans more than one European country and directly impacted her workplace.
Employers have an affirmative duty to take steps that are reasonably designed to end discrimination in the workplace. Indeed, the EEOC’s proposed new workplace harassment guidance indicates that employers can be liable for non-work-related online harassment where it impacts the workplace.
Although the typical situation would involve direct harassment of coworkers away from the office, an employer that knows about an employee’s discrimination of others online would be hard-pressed to ignore it, especially when it could directly impact the workplace, as it presumably would with someone who makes hiring decisons.