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Good news for less-Than-Perfect workplaces: No need to sweat the small stuff

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Employees sometimes unreasonably expect they will happily toil forever in a perfect workplace, full of harmony.

But that simply isn’t going to happen. Try as everyone might, some supervisors won’t get along with some subordinates, workers will chafe against their bosses, and co-workers will squabble over everything from assignments to who should win the next presidential election.

As long as those squabbles and personality conflicts don’t turn into discrimination based on age, race, religion or another protected category, they simply don’t matter.

Recent case:
Sandra Radcliffe was 48 years old when she lost her job. She assumed the reason was her age.

She sued but couldn’t point to anyone younger who had been treated materially differently than she had been. She did, however, list a litany of complaints about how her supervisors and co-workers had treated her. The company allowed a younger employee to wear flip-flops, while Radcliffe was allegedly reprimanded for breaking the dress code. Another younger employee got permission to leave work early, while Radcliffe did not. Yet another younger employee got a “better” parking spot.

The court had little patience for such petty complaints and dismissed the case. According to the court, Radcliffe’s complaints were “frivolous in the extreme.” While it might have seemed unfair to Radcliffe that some younger employees “got away” with more, it was hardly the recipe for age discrimination. (Radcliffe v. Whitlam Label, No. 07-CV-13946, ED MI, 2008)

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