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Use independent investigation to prove you’re not biased

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Employers can sometimes be held liable if they rubber-stamp recommendations that come from supervisors who discriminate. Your best defense is to conduct a truly independent investigation before making disciplinary decisions. That will cut the liability cord.

Recent case: Desmond Hodge, who is black, worked as a truck driver. While delivering a load of hazardous material to a customer, he apparently drove faster than the limit posted at the entrance to the facility. He then got into a confrontation with one of the customer’s employees, who allegedly said, “All you blacks are alike. I’ll get you.”

The employee recommended that Hodge be banned, and the customer conducted an independent investigation into the confrontation.

When Hodge was banned, he sued, alleging racism. The court tossed out the case because the independent investigation eliminated any racist motivation from the decision. (Hodge v. Orlando Utilities, et al., No. 6:09-CV-1059, MD FL, 2011)

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