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Extra work, harsh treatment may not be reverse discrimination

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Few employees like having to perform additional work outside their job descriptions. Resentment may run high if they feel like they’re picking up the slack for other employees they perceive as doing less than required—especially if they believe management isn’t making others pull their fair share because of race or nationality or some other protected classification.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that requiring some employees to do more than others amounts to reverse discrimination.

Recent case: Chet Grimsley worked as a night shift supervisor at a Marshalls warehouse. Grimsley and his boss are white, but most other supervisors and hourly employees at the warehouse are black and from various nations, such as Somalia.

Grimsley quit after his boss loaded him up with what he perceived as extra and out-of-class work. Grimsley thought his boss made him do the work because the boss couldn’t motivate the others to do their jobs.

He sued for disparate treatment based on his race. But the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out his case. It reasoned that the harsh treatment and extra work wasn’t enough to constitute an adverse employment action or justify Grimsley’s resignation. (Grimsley v. Marshalls, et al, No. 07-15102, 11th Cir., 2008)

Final note: In an ideal world, all employees would do their jobs, and no one would have to do more than required to make up for the deficiencies of others. But there is no ideal world or ideal workplace. Employees have to understand that sometimes the workload won’t be distributed evenly. Someone may have to leave early due to illness. Others may need reasonable accommodations. Remind employees that there are times when everyone has to pitch in.

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