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Work environment: There’s ugly and then there’s biased

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Some employees think employers must make sure nothing unpleasant happens at work. By cloaking workplace annoyances in the mantle of sex, age, race or some other form of discrimination, the employee may believe he has grounds for a lawsuit.

But if you investigate the complaint and find no evidence of a hostile work environment, you don’t have to do anything.

Recent case: Terry Heard, who is black, complained to management that a co-worker was creating a hostile work environment. Heard said the woman let unauthorized people enter the facility he managed, used profanity and threw shoes at him. Management investigated and found no evidence of discrimination or harassment based on race.

Heard sued, but the court tossed out the case. It reasoned that while the co-worker may have been unpleasant to work with, Heard hadn’t shown her be­­havior was related to his race. (Heard v. Select Tech, No. 3:10-CV-462, SD OH, 2011)

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