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Was that race discrimination, or just a personality conflict?

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

As an HR professional, you’re probably used to mediating what seem like silly disputes between co-workers. If neither employee mentions race, chances are a simple personality conflict is at the heart of the matter. Leave it at that—with a note for the record.

Recent case: Arleen, who is black, got good reviews. But then a white co-worker joined her work unit, and the two didn’t get along. Arleen com­­plained to HR that she was being har­­assed, yelled at and intimidated. She never mentioned race.

Then Arleen quit her job so she could go back to school. That’s also when she decided to sue, alleging she had been forced to work in a racially hostile work environment.

The court tossed her case when she offered no proof she had complained about racial hostility. (Brown v. Kessler, No. 11-1758, 3rd Cir., 2012)

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rich Bradford March 7, 2013 at 8:59 am

This is always an important issue for plaintiff’s attorneys. You have to ask do we have discrimination or a personality conflict. It is very important to ask client hard questions at the beginning of the case.

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