Past tolerance of misbehavior doesn’t mean it can continue

Some employees believe that if their supervisor tolerates misconduct, those further up the workplace hierarchy can’t do anything about it. That’s not true.

Recent case: Tomas Benitez worked with the same supervisor for decades and got good performance reviews. The boss tolerated Benitez’s suggestive comments, simply warning him on several occasions that he should be careful about what he said.

Then word got to HR about Benitez’s behavior and upper management got involved. HR investigated and found that over a dozen of Benitez’s subordinates felt his conduct was offensive.

When Benitez was terminated, he sued, alleging that since his supervisor never disciplined him for the allegedly offensive conduct, he shouldn’t be fired for it.

The court disagreed, reasoning that a company isn’t stuck with a supervisor’s bad decisions. (Rionda v. HSBC Bank, No. 10-20654, SD FL, 2010)