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Act fast to end harassment, stop hostile environment claims

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

When employees complain they are being harassed or say they work in a racially hostile environment, treat those claims seriously. Thoroughly and completely investigate their complaints, and resolve them as soon as possible.

Recent case: Mario Cantu, who is white and of Hispanic descent, works as a corrections officer at Michigan’s Ryan Correctional Facility. He reported that, against prison policy, a black female corrections officer was alone with a prisoner in a bathroom. An investigation followed, and the woman was fired.

Cantu claimed that since then, black corrections officers constantly harass and threaten him, calling him a white “snitch.” Cantu claimed management did nothing to stop the harassment, and in fact went out of its way to assign him to shifts with the worst harassers.

He sued, and a court ordered a trial, reasoning that a jury should decide whether Cantu had to work in a racially hostile environment and whether management participated in the harassment. (Cantu v. Michigan Department of Corrections, No. 07-CV-10339, ED MI, 2007)

Final note: This case clearly shows that allowing harassment to continue is a sure way to the courthouse.

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