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When faced with irrationality, act rationally

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Have you ever run across an irrational employee who thought everyone was out to get him because of bias? You probably listened carefully to his complaints, only to realize there was no real discrimination going on.

It would be easy to dismiss the complaint out-of-hand. However, a better approach is to try to fix the “problem.” The reason: Irrational employees often file lawsuits despite ample evidence that nothing is amiss. By acting rationally and calmly, you can provide a clear picture for a judge or jury showing that the problem was the employee, not the employer.

Recent case: Osama Eldeeb, born in Egypt and a practicing Muslim, was hired as a security guard. The first day on the job, a co-worker remarked on Osama as a first name, stating that it was “a very bad name” and opining that Eldeeb should change it.

Eldeeb was offended and complained. The supervisors told Eldeeb the co-worker meant no harm, but also counseled the man to be more sensitive. But when the co-worker continued to repeat his opinion, Eldeeb complained again.

He also asked for a transfer to another assignment that would allow him to take Fridays off for religious reasons.

While the company was trying to find another position for Eldeeb, he filed an EEOC discrimination complaint. Then he was offered a part-time position until a full-time one opened up. He left work and never returned, even after the company found him a full-time spot that not only allowed Fridays off, but paid more. Despite all this, Eldeeb sued for discrimination.

The court tossed out the case, finding no evidence of bias. Instead, the evidence was clear that the employer did all it could to accommodate Eldeeb and fix the problem he was having with his co-worker. (Eldeeb v. AlliedBarton Security Services, et al., No. 08-4004, 3rd Cir., 2010)

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