Lessons from an office ‘kick me’ prank

August 18, 2013 1 COMMENTS

by Robert P. Tinnin, Jr.

Q I recently read a newspaper article concerning a lawsuit filed in federal court in Albuquerque by an Intel employee who is suing his employer for race-based harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Coworkers secretly taped a “kick me” sign to his back and then kicked him as others laughed hysterically. What are we coming to? Can employees sue their employer for anything these days?

A The lawsuit has garnered quite a bit of attention in both the local and national press. The primary allegation involves a grade-school prank that many of us participated in as children. Indeed, at the very least, it was a juvenile prank. Few of us would think it would be the basis for a lawsuit in federal court, but it is. read more…

Words are powerful things: racism and hostile work environments

December 16, 2012 0 COMMENTS

by Brinton Wilkins

Humans are unique in their use of words. With them, we explain the world around us, share our thoughts and feelings, teach, and define ourselves. Therefore, it should be no surprise that words also can injure. Trying to excuse words by saying “I didn’t mean to hurt anybody” or “Everyone says that” usually rings hollow. In the English language, there are few words more opprobrious and hateful than the “n” word. Although segments of pop culture seem to have a conflicted, contradictory, and self-destructive relationship with that word, it should be clear to employers that the word has no place in a modern workplace. Unfortunately, one employer learned that lesson the hard way. read more…