Don’t allow racist talk. Even if not directed at an employee, it can have a profound effect on her.
Recent case: Latrice, who is black, worked for a security company that provides security for the Chicago Housing Authority. She sued, alleging a racially hostile work environment.
She said her supervisor called black residents “porch monkeys” and made comments like “Sit your black ass down.” She said her boss once sent a text message depicting a hanging black stick figure. Latrice testified she feared that the supervisor’s racist expressions would cause violence.
The company said even if the conduct was unacceptable, none of it was directed at Latrice.
The court ordered a trial anyway. It noted that hanging has special significance to black people whose ancestors may have lived through the Jim Crow era. (Golden, et al., v. World Security, No. 10-C-7673, ND IL, 2012)
- No matter how implausible, you must investigate every sexual harassment complaint
- Make sure managers understand: They may be personally liable for racial slurs
- Whether layoff affects one or 100, use solid business reasons to justify job cuts
- Best Buy settles class action; employees' lawyers win big
- Light-duty drudgery isn't grounds for lawsuit