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Isolated, subjective incident doesn’t justify bias lawsuit

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Some employees always have a chip on their shoulders. They interpret every comment as criticism—and then blame work problems on discrimination. Fortunately, not every look, comment or gesture leads to a successful employee lawsuit.

Recent case: Theresa Williams was Time Warner’s vice president of diversity and multicultural initiatives for just four months. She was terminated a few days after she complained to HR about a comment she had heard secondhand. She said another employee had complained that Williams was “up in his face.” Williams apparently took the comment to mean she was regarded as “an angry black woman.”

Williams sued, alleging race bias and retaliation.

The court didn’t buy it, reasoning that the single comment wasn’t ra­­cially motivated and that her under­­lying complaint wasn’t reasonable. (Williams v. Time Warner, No. 10-1389, 2nd Cir., 2011)

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