by Kylie Crawford TenBrook, Best Western International, Inc.
In April, recordings of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling making racist remarks to his half-black, half-Mexican girlfriend assistant* surfaced. Among those remarks were the following:
by Carrie Pond
A Kentucky federal court recently dismissed a claim of hostile work environment racial harassment because the employee failed to show the harassment was race-based. Despite allegations that, if believed, demonstrated the employee’s supervisor “treated [her] very badly,” she failed to establish that the treatment was racially motivated.
Everyone has unconscious or subconscious preferences. Generally, we all prefer to associate or socialize with people who share our background and interests. As a consequence, we often aren’t aware of our preferences, identifying our behavior only when it’s pointed out by someone else. Unfortunately, we carry our hidden biases into the workplace, and that’s when problems may arise.
Employees’ hidden biases
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…
In a recent decision, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland affirmed the notion that discrimination on the basis of race and discrimination based on national origin are distinct legal claims. Moreover, because 42 USC § 1981 only prohibits discrimination based on race, a claim alleging national origin discrimination under the Act has little chance of success. Let’s take a closer look at this interesting decision.
In its first class action lawsuit challenging an employer’s use of criminal records, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ended up dropping its case against PeopleMark and getting socked with $750,000 in sanctions. Recently, the EEOC suffered another stinging loss when a federal court dismissed its discrimination case against Kaplan Higher Education Corporation (which was discussed in a previous blog post, “EEOC’s use of ‘race raters’ against Kaplan University gets failing grade”) based on an unsound analysis by the commission’s expert witness. With the same expert providing statistical evidence in another case, could the agency strike out in a third background check class action lawsuit?
Over the past few years, the EEOC has aggressively challenged the use of credit reports and criminal history checks in hiring decisions, alleging that use of the information results in a discriminatory impact on candidates in protected groups. In 2012, the commission successfully negotiated a $3.13 million prelawsuit settlement of a race discrimination charge against Pepsi in which the soda giant’s criminal background check policy was called into question for allegedly discriminating against African Americans. However, the agency has been less successful pursuing similar cases in court, mainly because of its struggle to proffer reliable evidence of discriminatory impact. Despite the EEOC’s mixed results, the recent settlements and case filings indicate that the use of credit and criminal history checks in the hiring process is a hot topic. read more…
On January 28, a federal court ruled in favor of Kaplan Higher Learning Education Corp. and Kaplan University in a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC had alleged that Kaplan’s use of credit history reports in making hiring decisions violated certain provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because the practice has a disparate impact on black applicants.
The defendant in this case was a group of educational institutions. As the court noted, educational institutions operate in a highly regulated industry. The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) provides financial aid to many students enrolled at Kaplan University and Kaplan Higher Learning Education and requires its participants to have in place quality controls that limit access to student and parent information. read more…
Statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission show that charges of discrimination based on religion and national origin are the fastest growing categories in the past decade. Of course, that coincides with the aftermath of 9/11 and, rational or not, American anger and suspicions over Middle Eastern Arab communities. This shift in public mood creates a problem for HR professionals, whose job it is to ensure a workplace free from discrimination and harassment―a prejudice-free island in an ocean littered with group hatred. That’s no easy job, as United Parcel Service (UPS) was reminded recently. read more…