All too often, low-level managers and supervisors cause misunderstandings that could have been avoided.
Of course, training on company processes, anti-discrimination or anti-harassment policies and so forth can prevent many workplace problems. But that may not always be practical, especially in high-turnover environments in which employees come and go before training can kick in.
As a backup plan, make sure you have a way for employees to quickly notify HR about any problems. A toll-free hotline for employees’ complaints can work wonders. If you hear about any potential harassment or discrimination, you’ll be able to act fast to address it. It might even win you a lawsuit.
Recent case: Denise Taylor, who is black, worked for a service station and had trouble with her new manager, who was from another cultural background. One day, he fired her after she started crying when he changed her schedule. Then he rehired her the next day. Then he fired her again for having a “poor attitude.” That’s when Taylor had enough and called HR. HR told her that the manager wasn’t authorized to fire anyone. They set up a meeting to discuss the matter.
Taylor sued instead of going to the meeting. She alleged that the manager refused to hire black applicants and had made comments that blacks dress poorly and have criminal records.
The court dismissed Taylor’s case, partly because she never gave HR a chance to resolve the problem. (Taylor v. Exxon-Mobil, No. 07-C-3172, ND IL, 2009)
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