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Harassment ended? Tell employee to move on

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Some employees will never be satisfied with their employer’s solution to perceived harassment. But if you have fixed the problem, it’s perfectly fine to tell the employee he needs to move on and forget about the past.

Just be sure you have documented that you did indeed address his concern and that the harassment did not occur again.

Recent case: Biniam worked for the Wegmans grocery store chain. He was born in Ethiopia and is black. Biniam had an altercation with a co-worker after a meeting. According to his account, he tried to remove a chain across an area to exit when the co-worker exclaimed, “If you do that again, I will use the chain to hang you.”

Biniam complained to management and was told the incident would be investigated and addressed. The employer then spoke with the co-worker and told Biniam the problem would be resolved. Almost two years later, after returning from a nine-month medical leave, Biniam pressed his employer on the incident once again. Management told him that it had been resolved and suggested he “move on.”

He didn’t. Instead, he sued, alleging he had to work in a racially hostile environment.

It was then he also reported that in the past, the same co-worker had made racially insensitive comments to other employees.

The court tossed out the case. It told Biniam that the employer had done what it was required to do. Since Biniam hadn’t experienced any further problems from the co-worker, it was clear the employer’s approach had worked. He could not use other, earlier insensitive comments to bolster his case. (Tekle v. Wegmans, No. 15-CV-6386, WD NY, 2015)

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