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When is an employer liable for an employee’s discriminatory comments?

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

by Sandro Polledri, Esq., Genova, Burns & Vernoia

In April 2007, radio talk show host Don Imus made racially disparaging remarks about the Rutgers women’s basketball team on the “Imus in the Morning” show. The offensive comments caused an almost instant swell of controversy and provoked widespread reaction.

Despite Imus’ repeated public apologies, his employer suspended Imus for two weeks. In protest, many public figures said apologies weren’t enough and demanded Imus’ termination.

Then advertisers—representing a cross section of major U.S. corporate brands, including Staples, AT&T, General Motors and Procter & Gamble—followed suit, threatening to withdraw tens of millions of dollars in advertising from the nationally syndicated CBS Radio program and the MSNBC television cable simulcast of the Imus show.

Imus’ discriminatory comments for now have ended his successful—albeit controversial—broadcasting career.

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