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Comment alone won’t support hostile environment claim

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

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)

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