Some employees think all criticism equals harassment—the slightest insult triggers an angry response and a formal complaint. When that happens, investigate the claim. If there’s nothing to it, say so and move on.
You may be sued, but chances are the case will quickly be dismissed.
Recent case: Catherine Cranford worked for the city of Huntington Beach’s jail system. Cranford is a lesbian. She and a co-worker argued frequently. When the co-worker accused Cranford of playing the “gay card,” Cranford concluded she couldn’t work there anymore.
She then sued, alleging sexual orientation harassment.
The court dismissed Cranford’s case since she offered no evidence anyone cared about her sexual orientation—no slurs, no derogatory comments or any other offensive conduct. (Cranford v. City of Huntington Beach, No. G043791, Court of Appeal of California, 2012)
- Getting legal advice? Be prepared to show court the details
- When administering job tests, ensure they're job-related and fair to all employees
- Handle application liars consistently: Reject all or none
- Make sure fitness tests don't unfairly target women
- Leave as a disability accommodation: Are your policies compliant?