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Ensure direct way to report discrimination to HR

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

If you don’t know about alleged discrimination, you can’t fix it. That’s why you should inform employees that they should report discrimination directly to HR. Then tell supervisors they must pass along every bias complaint—and warn them that they’ll be disciplined if they tell employees to keep their complaints quiet.

Recent case: During his first year at a Texas high school, Alvin was one of four black teachers and the only black coach in a faculty of approximately 100 teachers. During that first year, Alvin received generally positive reviews, including a positive annual appraisal from his supervisor, an associate principal.

Then Alvin told his principal that he was having trouble with a fellow coach and thought he was being discriminated against based on his race. Alvin was told not to report the problem to HR, so he didn’t.

Then, just two weeks later, the principal made a snap inspection of Alvin’s classroom, noted several deficiencies and placed Alvin on a performance improvement plan. A follow-up inspection allegedly revealed that the deficiencies had not been remedied. The principal then recommended against renewal of Alvin’s contract for the next school year.

Alvin sued, alleging retaliation for trying to report racial discrimination. The school district argued it had legitimate, performance-related reasons for not renewing Alvin’s contract.

The court ruled that Alvin’s case could move forward because of the close timing between the classroom inspection and the principal’s apparent attempt to dissuade Alvin from contacting HR with his initial race discrimination complaint. (Jackson v. Frisco Independent School District, No. 14-40371, 5th Cir., 2015)

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