Courts recognize that employers can’t control everything employees do. Judges expect employers to educate workers on appropriate conduct, but they don’t expect perfection.
If you hear that co-workers have been giving a hard time to an employee who has filed discrimination charges, check it out and tell them to stop. But don’t lose any sleep over minor slights. Instead, concentrate on preventing escalation.
Recent case: Heavy equipment operator William Baker complained to the EEOC that he was assigned fewer hours than other operators because he is disabled. Somehow, co-workers found out about his complaint.
Baker later added a retaliation claim after he and his wife allegedly were slighted at a company picnic, where a co-worker told Baker his EEOC complaint was “bull****.”
The court said such slights aren’t retaliation, especially when they come from co-workers. (Baker v. World Technical Services, No. 8:09-CV-2450, MD FL, 2011)