Some employees are never happy. They file complaint after complaint—sometimes with merit, but more often without. Handle serial complainers as you do one-time complainers. Investigate the claims, fixing legitimate gripes and rejecting all the rest.
If the chronic complainer sues, chances are the court will realize that you’ve been dealing with someone who is habitually crabby.
Recent case: Anthony Palermo, who is white, was supervised by two black women. He filed several general discrimination complaints concerning promotions and his job classification. Those resulted in two pay-grade promotions.
Then Palermo filed an internal request for a desk audit to prove he should be classified even higher. An expert from headquarters performed the audit with help from Palermo’s supervisors. Everyone agreed that Palermo performed some extra tasks, but not often enough to warrant an upgrade.
Meanwhile, Palermo had to attend a meeting where he was accused of sexual harassment. He also complained he had too much to do. His supervisor then asked for a list of tasks so she could determine whether he was overworked.
At that point, Palermo sued, alleging retaliation.
But the court rejected his claim, pointing out that there was no evidence that the supervisors were untruthful about his work. There was no evidence that they did anything but try to supervise his work and handle a sexual harassment complaint. In other words, they were just doing their jobs. (Palermo v. Clinton, No. 11-1958, 7th Cir., 2012)
- How to discuss late hours without bringing up family obligations
- Track all disciplinary actions to head off disparate-Treatment claims
- Make managers aware of potential personal liability
- Co-worker romance: Set a policy that balances rights, liability
- Any ethnic stereotype, even a positive one, can trigger a job discrimination lawsuit