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Fair harassment investigation can justify firing supervisor

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

When investigating supervisor sexual har­assment claims, you must conduct a fair workplace investigation, not a criminal probe. As long as the investigation was fair and the conclusion was reasonable, courts won’t interfere.

Recent case: Richard Byrd, who is black, was a supervisor with Merrill Lynch until he was fired for sexual har­assment. Several black female subordinates claimed that Byrd treated them with disrespect and demanded sexual favors. The company investigated and believed the subordinates.

Byrd sued, claiming that the company was wrong and that the subordinates conspired to get rid of him because he was friends with a white woman.

The court dismissed the case, con­­cluding that Merrill Lynch acted ap­­propriately, regardless of what really happened. (Byrd v. Merrill Lynch, No. 10-0247, DC NJ, 2011)

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