Thirteen employees recently filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Dallas, claiming they were the victims of racial discrimination while working for Dallas Water Utilities. In addition to claiming that they endured racial slurs and degrading drawings, the workers say they were passed over for promotions in favor of less qualified white workers.
The employees—11 blacks, one Hispanic and one Asian—also argue that supervisors rode them harder than their white co-workers. According to the employees, white employees used threats and bribery to discredit their complaints and keep the minority workers segregated in the workplace.
A Dallas city spokesperson said, “Many of the allegations concern specific incidents that are several years old, about which the city took corrective measures regarding these situations at the time the allegations were first reported.”
Final note: Time will tell whether the claimed corrective actions were sufficient. Courts hearing race discrimination and harassment cases look to see whether employers respond to complaints in a way reasonably designed to end the problem.Often, however, employers assume the problem will go away by itself. It seldom does.
The better approach: If employees complain of bias or harassment, investigate right away. Punish anyone found responsible. Keep the complaining employees apprised of what’s going on.
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- Tell managers: You must let disabled applicants prove merit
- Strong harassment policy plus training essential
- Set clear, fairly enforced rules on behavior to trump 'my disability made me do it'