When fighting bias claims, nothing can doom a company quite like the employee showing the judge a discriminatory e-mail or text message from a supervisor. But as this recent case shows, there are still steps employers can take to protect themselves from those claims.
An African-American security guard sued his employer for discrimination. His reason: racially charged jokes send to him by his supervisor via text messages.
One of the messages, which was sent to several employees, contained a serious racial slur. On top of that, the employee also claimed white employees got more favorable work assignments than minorities.
Employees who have permanent written evidence of harassment or bias (like a defamatory e-mail or text message) usually do well in court.
But not this time. Here’s why:
After getting the messages, the employee complained to HR. After getting the complaint, the company:
- gave the supervisor a “final warning”
- transferred the employee to a location with a different supervisor (which the employee had requested), and
- looked into his claims about work assignments, but found no evidence he was right.
After that, the employee sued anyway, claiming the company didn’t do enough. But the court disagreed.
Prompt investigation and appropriate discipline can protect companies from managers’ bias and stupid misuse of technology.
Cite: Griffin vs. Harrisburg Property Services, Inc.