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Being sole minority employee doesn’t mean special protection

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in Discrimination and Harassment

How often have you worried about disciplining the only employee who belongs to a particular protected class? You probably feared that the employee would sue, alleging bias.

Relax. Being the only black … or Asian … or female employee doesn’t confer any particular advantage in a discrimination lawsuit. The employee she still has to prove that the discipline was related to the protected status.

Recent case: Elizabeth worked in HR and earned steady promotions. She was the only Asian in the department. When a new supervisor arrived on the scene, Elizabeth’s performance evaluations progressively grew worse and eventually she was demoted to file clerk.

Elizabeth sued, alleging race and national-origin discrimination.

But the court said she had no evidence her status caused her demotion. Being the only Asian wasn’t enough. (Tsang-Adler v. City of New York, No. 12-CV-394, ED NY, 2013)

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