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Vague report of name-calling doesn’t make you liable

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Employers must respond promptly to allegations that employee misbehavior is creating a racially, sexually or otherwise hostile work environment.

But what if all an employee only complains about is unspecified name calling? According to a recent 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, that doesn’t trigger employer liability.

Recent case: Terrence Moore, who is black, sued his employer for allowing a racially hostile work environment to exist. He claimed he had complained, but the company did nothing.

As it turned out, he had told supervisors that some co-workers were calling him names. However, he never said anything about racial under­­tones until he filed the lawsuit.

The court dismissed the case, reasoning the employer never received notice that harassment was occurring. (Moore v. Nebraska Beef, No. 11-1755, 8th Cir., 2011)

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