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Insensitivity alone doesn’t create a hostile environment

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Employees sometimes spot a pattern of outright hostility from a series of other­wise innocuous acts. That can lead to a hostile work environment lawsuit.

Recent case: Starbucks employee Mary Triplett, who is black, sued for discrimination and a hostile work en­­vironment. As evidence, she cited a white manager’s comment that Chi­­cago has a larger black population than Boston, where she once lived. That manager also began requiring transit authority employees, most of them black, to buy something before using the store’s restrooms. And Triplett was disciplined for violations that white baristas were not.

The court tossed out Triplett’s hostile environment claim, saying the man­ager’s actions weren’t severe. How­ever, it did say her discrimination claim might have merit. (Triplett v. Starbucks, No. 10-C-5215, ND IL, 2011)

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