Track the training you offer, who qualified–and which employees took advantage of it

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

If you offer training to some, you must offer it to everyone else in the same classification who qualifies. Refusing to train some employees may be grounds for a discrimination lawsuit.

Prevent such lawsuits by carefully documenting all training offers and how employees respond. If an employee turns down a training opportunity, he can’t later accuse you of discrimination.

Recent case: Vincent, who is black, had a spotty performance history while working in the custodial and grounds departments at the University of California Santa Barbara. He was finally terminated after showing little or no performance improvement. He had also been suspended several times for offenses including sexual harassment and getting into arguments with his supervisor.

Vincent sued, alleging that the university hadn’t offered him training because of his race.

But the university was able to show it had offered him training when he first complained, but that Vincent rejected the offer because he didn’t want to travel off-campus for the sessions.

The court tossed out the case, reasoning that it wasn’t the university that kept Vincent from learning new skills, but his own decisions. (Love v. University of California, No. B230418, Court of Appeal of California, 2nd Appellate District, 2012)

Final note: If you offer training but can’t accommodate everyone who wants it, find some reasonable way to determine who gets the training. You can base that on seniority, test scores, performance review scores or other neutral factors.

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