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Fire offender to decouple discrimination, employment action

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in Employment Law,Firing,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Performance Reviews

Remind upper-level managers: When a supervisor or mid-level manager makes comments that could be construed as racist or religiously motivated, it pays to act fast.

In fact, firing the responsible manager sometimes can be the best way to go. That way, if the employee he disparaged later gets turned down for a promotion or a raise, it will be much harder for an attorney to show a connection between the supervisor’s biased views and the denied opportunity.

Recent case: Jose Gomez sought out and was denied a promotion in 2004. That’s when he apparently remembered that a former supervisor made blatantly ethnic, religious and age-related comments in the workplace.

But he made those comments back in 2001, and the company had since fired the supervisor. The court said that too much time had passed to connect the denied promotion to the comments. Plus, the supervisor no longer had a say in Gomez’s employment because he had been terminated long ago. That further cut any possible connection and liability. (Gomez v. LSI Integrated, No. 06-20796, 5th Cir.)

Final tip: Practice prevention and cure. Train all managers and supervisors on what is appropriate in the workplace and what is not. Don’t assume they know.

Then, tie compliance with performance reviews. In some cases, prevention is your only option. For example, if a supervisor sexually harasses an employee and fires or otherwise punishes the employee, the company will be strictly liable.

Plus, take prompt remedial action when you learn about possible biased comments. Moving fast to stop the offender may be your best chance at cutting liability if the employee suffers an adverse employment action.

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