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Take all racial harassment complaints seriously

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

When an employee complains about racial prejudice or harassment, don’t brush it off. Instead, act right away. Even a briefly hostile environment may mean a big award.

Recent case: Carol Fuller, who is black, was offered a temporary position in her employer’s corporate offices. She was the first black corporate office employee in many years.

On arrival, her trainer told Fuller that she didn’t like blacks, but would try to tolerate her. Fuller was not allowed to answer phones because she had an “ethnic voice.” Then her new supervisor made gorilla gestures behind Fuller to amuse co-workers. Fuller complained to her supervisor and her former boss. The supervisor ignored her, and her former boss told her to “hang in there.”

She quit and sued. A jury awarded her $65,000 for harassment plus attorneys’ fees. (Fuller v. Fiber Glass Systems, No. 09-2732, 8th Cir., 2010)

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