A simple fact: Some supervisors like some subordinates more than others. As long as any personality conflict isn’t based on some protected characteristic such as age, race or sex, there is no need to worry that treating some employees more harshly than others will result in a winning lawsuit for the employee.
Recent case: Ricky Zinn, who is black, accepted an auditor trainee position. His supervisor apparently took an immediate dislike to Zinn and told him that he didn’t have what it takes to succeed. Zinn also heard that he wasn’t “worth the salary he was being paid.” When Zinn failed the training program, he sued, alleging race discrimination.
The court threw out the case, saying that there was no racial element to the supervisor’s conduct—just an old-fashioned personality conflict. Courts can’t litigate courtesy. (Zinn v. Illinois Department of Revenue, SD IL, 2008)
- Show your defense cards early in the lawsuit game
- Can we ban dating among co-workers?
- Enforce discrimination rules to avoid NYC's sky-high penalties
- Be alert for retaliation suit if manager reports that a colleague discriminates or harasses
- Employee sounds threatening during hearing? OK to suspend while you investigate