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Co-worker slights aren’t enough for retaliation claim

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in Employment Law

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)

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