Even a pay increase can lead to discrimination charges

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

Don’t think because an employee receives a raise, he or she can’t sue for discrimination. The fact is, an “inadequate” or “unequal” raise can be the basis of a discrimination lawsuit—if other employees outside the affected employee’s protected class got bigger and better raises.

Recent case: William Whigum, who is black, was a good employee for four years. Then a new supervisor arrived on the scene and began treating his subordinates, including Whigum, poorly. When it came time for raises, Whigum for the first time complained that his wasn’t big enough. He said it must have been because his new boss was discriminating against him. Whigum filed an EEOC complaint and quit.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed his case, but only because Whigum couldn’t show his raise was smaller than those that white or other nonminority employees received. (Whigum v. Keller Crescent, No. 07-2960, 7th Cir., 2008)

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