In the good old days, employers used to have control over who they hired. Not anymore. Today, the EEOC has the power to decide who you will have to roll out the red carpet for.
Case in Point: At the Chino Latino, a Minneapolis restaurant and bar, supervisors dished out big helpings of harassment to their Hispanic employees. If that wasn’t enough, for dessert the restaurant served up a double order of retaliation after it organized a meeting among employees to try to stifle the harassment complaints. After that happened, the EEOC stepped in and informed the employer, “I’ll be your server today.”
Selecting from its buffet of remedies, the EEOC ordered the employer to pay $325,000, to provide annual anti-harassment training to managers and create a complaint hotline in both English and Spanish. But the biggest surprise came when the EEOC ordered the restaurant to hire a Spanish-speaking Hispanic Ombudsman who will be responsible “for montioring, soliciting and resolving complaints of Lantino and Hispanic employees.” (EEOC v. Rainbow Rest. Prop., Inc., D. Minn., Consent Decree Approved 04/27/07)
What does this new ruling mean to you?
Lessons Learned ... Without Going to Court
- Proactively train managers.
Don’t let them make a single comment about an employee’s protected
characteristics, including national origin, race, color, religion, sex,
age, etc. Not one word or reference or there may be
- Consider providing a multi-language hotline.
The company could have done this without a lawsuit. Providing a hotline
proactively creates employee “loyalty” points. Doing it because your
arm was twisted takes the goodwill out of it. Take their lesson to
- Monitor for retaliation. It’s subtle.
It’s often hard to catch. So, stay on the lookout for ways that
managers and supervisors are retaliating after employees file claims.
For example, giving the silent treatment, making demotions and cutting
hours. Make sure managers know retaliation is illegal.
- Know the power of the EEOC. The agency exists to monitor for harassment, discrimination and retaliation. If the commission doesn’t think you understand the laws, it could--as in this case--force you to hire someone to become its eyes, ears, and mouth to report on you.