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Stray comments unfortunate, but rarely prove discrimination

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,HR Management,Human Resources

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.

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