When words used in a disciplinary report suggest implicit bias

September 17, 2017 0 COMMENTS

by Barbara J. Koenig

Implicit bias is an unconscious preference for or an aversion to a person or a group of people. In other words, we may have an attitude toward others or stereotype them without conscious knowledge of what we’re doing. If we act in accordance with our implicit bias, we may be discriminating against a person or a group of people without even being aware of our bias. Two recent cases illustrate the fact that HR managers need to educate supervisors on implicit bias and how a seemingly straightforward description of an employee or a workplace incident can suggest racial animus and unconscious discrimination.  Bias

Seemingly innocent words suggest bias

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Don’t let Confederate flags lead to interoffice civil war

August 14, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Connor Beatty

While enjoying a scenic drive along the Maine coast recently, I was startled to come across a giant Confederate flag prominently displayed in a house’s front yard. Less than a week later, a client contacted our firm to ask for advice in responding to an employee’s claim that a vehicle with a Confederate flag bumper sticker in the parking lot made her uncomfortable. While the timing of the occurrences may have been a coincidence, the events are a reminder that the Southern symbol can appear at any workplace, including workplaces in one of the northernmost states in the country. For many, the Confederate flag is an offensive image, and addressing the symbol at work can be tricky. Employers in other states have been sued for ordering employees to remove Confederate flags, while other employers have been taken to court for failing to order workers to remove the flags.  Confederate flag flying

No right to display Confederate flags at work

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Employees who posed for photo as KKK members lose race bias case

January 17, 2016 0 COMMENTS

by Emily Bensinger EdmundsProtest against racism

It should go without saying that dressing up as a Ku Klux Klan (KKK) member in modified work clothing at work is unacceptable conduct in the eyes of any employer. As this case from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania shows, three employees who were fired after being photographed dressed in KKK garb couldn’t prevail on a theory of reverse race discrimination.

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Recent events confirm racists, misogynists are not extinct

June 14, 2015 0 COMMENTS

by Dinita L. James

Last July, the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The focus rightly was on how far we have come as a society in eliminating discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex.

Close on the heels of that celebration, however, recent events provide some distressing reminders that bigotry is not dead.

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‘Microaggression’: a new form of discrimination?

March 15, 2015 2 COMMENTS

by Ryann E. Ricchio

Discussions about “microaggression” have become more common in the mainstream media. A simple Google search reveals college websites documenting students’ recently experienced microaggressions and articles analyzing microaggression from major media sources, including National Public Radio and the New York Times. This article provides the definition of microaggression, examines a recent case from a federal court that likely involved microaggression (although the conduct wasn’t described using that particular label), and provides a bottom line for employers.  Boss with employee

What is microaggression?

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Guidance for HR when racial tension spreads from streets to workplace

December 14, 2014 0 COMMENTS

As protests rage around the country following recent grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York not to indict police officers involved in the deaths of two unarmed black men, employers may find tension spilling into the workplace.

In November, a grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb. Witnesses claim the 18-year-old unarmed Brown was trying to surrender when the officer shot him, but the officer claimed Brown was the aggressor.Workplace Argument

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Rude isn’t racist: Supervisor’s alleged poor treatment doesn’t amount to discrimination

June 15, 2014 0 COMMENTS

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.   Racist Supervisor

Facts

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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…