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Failure to investigate alleged harassment brings EEOC lawsuit

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

B.J. Con-Sew faces national-origin harassment charges after a Hispanic employee claims he was forced to ­resign to avoid daily harassment.

According to Jason Ramirez, a co-worker and supervisor constantly harassed him by calling him “wetback,” hurling obscenities at him and constantly criticizing his Mexican heritage. Ramirez, the son of a white mother and Mexican father, claims he often endured being called “half-breed.”

Ramirez claims he complained to various managers, but no investigation or assistance was forthcoming.

Eventually, he quit and filed charges with the EEOC. Attempts to settle the dispute through the EEOC’s conciliation process failed, and the commission has now filed suit in federal court seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive relief. Barring a settlement, the case will go to trial.

Advice: You must have a process in place to receive and investigate harassment complaints. Document every step in the process. If this em­­ployee’s claims are true, his complaints were never even investigated.

You need a written policy that allows employees to freely report harassment and a trained team that can conduct professional, unbiased, and fast investigations. Without those processes, you are taking a big risk.

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