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Ensure similar infractions are similarly punished

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Make sure that you punish similar transgressions fairly and equally. That’s especially true for serious rules violations. A pattern of punishing one protected class more severely than another is sure to lead to litigation.

Recent case: Beverly, who is black, was a successful head coach for the track and field team at the University of Texas. In 2012, she was informed that someone had reported she had engaged in a romantic relationship with a student a decade earlier. She admitted to the relationship and resigned instead of being terminated.

Then she sued, alleging that white coaches who had either married past student athletes or admitted to sexual relationships barred by university rules had not been fired.

The court said her race discrimination case could go to trial based on disparate treatment. (University of Texas v. Kearney, No. 03-14-00500, Texas Court of Appeals, 2016)

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