HR professionals often worry needlessly when they hear that a supervisor has made an intemperate or insensitive remark. Fortunately, such comments seldom become the basis of successful lawsuits unless they are truly offensive or outrageous.
Recent case: William Miller, who is over age 40, claimed that for years he had been improperly paid in retaliation for helping another employee file a complaint. He also alleged that his boss discriminated against him due to his age. As evidence of age discrimination, he pointed to a single comment by a manager suggesting Miller should quit his job if he didn’t like it.
The court tossed out the case, concluding the stray comment wasn’t tied to his age. (Miller v. Kempthorne, No. 08-2466, 2nd Cir., 2009)
Final note: Courts aren’t in the business of enforcing civility at work. Sometimes, employees just need thicker skins.
- Court shoots down argument based on bizarre racism 'proof'
- Act fast to stop any workplace incident that smacks of racism or racial harassment
- Sexual harassment settlement not part of the public record
- Be ready to come down hard on managers and supervisors who use ethnic slurs
- How Dodd-Frank's whistle-blower rules put you in the crosshairs