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AT&T’s phone or its supervisor: Was either at fault?

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Firing,Human Resources

A former employee at AT&T’s Houston facility has filed a racial discrimination complaint against the telecommunications giant, claiming he was fired by a boss who was motivated by racial bias.

AT&T says Richard E. Wilson was fired for failing to call in when he was going to be late for work.

Wilson, who is black, says he tried to call in, but the phone company’s phone system was out of order. He contends AT&T used the call-in mix-up as a pretext to fire him.

Wilson says he worked “without serious issue” until late 2010 when the company replaced his previous boss with a white supervisor. Wilson claims the new supervisor favored white subordinates and punished black employees more harshly than their white co-workers.

The lawsuit paints a picture of a supervisor whose demeanor practically invited a lawsuit. Wilson alleges the man laughed when telling co-workers about Wilson’s unsuccessful attempts to call in, and that he gleefully texted the news to other workers that Wilson had been fired.

Note: You can conscientiously train supervisors and still wind up in court if they act like jerks. Bosses who gloat about discipline and inappropriately share the details make defending a lawsuit much harder than it needs to be. Generally, there’s no need for supervisors to discuss an employee’s discipline or termination with co-workers.

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