Some employees think employers must make sure nothing unpleasant happens at work. By cloaking workplace annoyances in the mantle of sex, age, race or some other form of discrimination, the employee may believe he has grounds for a lawsuit.
But if you investigate the complaint and find no evidence of a hostile work environment, you don’t have to do anything.
Recent case: Terry Heard, who is black, complained tothat a co-worker was creating a hostile work environment. Heard said the woman let unauthorized people enter the facility he managed, used profanity and threw shoes at him. Management investigated and found no evidence of discrimination or harassment based on race.
Heard sued, but the court tossed out the case. It reasoned that while the co-worker may have been unpleasant to work with, Heard hadn’t shown her behavior was related to his race. (Heard v. Select Tech, No. 3:10-CV-462, SD OH, 2011)
- Beware the legal risks of résumé-screening software
- Having anti-harassment policy isn't enough: You had better be prepared to enforce it, too
- Senate begins confirming Obama's HR-related Cabinet nominees
- Why do employers have to investigate harassment?
- ADA: How far must you go to 'reasonably' accommodate?