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When it comes to bias, the customer’s not always right

by on
in Centerpiece,Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

EEOC logoWatch out for the old adage that the customer is always right. Take it too literally, and you could be courting employment law liability.

THE LAW: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and similar state laws bar discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin in public accommodations. Most businesses that serve the public meet the defi­nition of “public accommodation.”

While the state-sanctioned segre­gation of the 1950s is a thing of the past, businesses can face dilemmas when bigoted customers ask them to discriminate.

For example, health care professionals regularly field patient requests for caregivers of a certain race. Employers face an awkward choice: alienate the customer or violate the law. A 2010 decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals stated that nursing homes that make assignments based on residents’ racial preferences violate Title VII.

WHAT’S NEW: A recent case from Michigan illustrates this nightm...(register to read more)

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