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Not every gripe is worth an employee lawsuit

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Some employees think they can sue their employer anytime they believe working conditions aren’t absolutely fair and free from conflict. They’re wrong. Courts know no employer can live up to such lofty standards.

Recent case: Lucyna, an older woman of Polish descent, worked at a Target store as a team member in various departments. She was responsible for clearing fitting rooms and generally putting things away. Five of Lucyna’s 20 co-workers were older than her.

Lucyna’s perceived problems began when she heard a new supervisor refer to her as “crazy” for walking to work in the middle of a snowstorm. She complained, and the supervisor was coached not to make sarcastic comments that might hurt feelings. The supervisor then apologized to Lucyna.

Other incidents bothered her, too. Lucyna groused when her hours were cut, and grew irate when her boss asked her to quit griping to co-workers about it.

Lucyna sued, alleging that she had worked in a hostile environment and that she had been targeted because of her age and national origin.

The court dismissed her lawsuit case. It said that the “crazy” comment may have been unprofessional, but Lucyna’s other complaints weren’t severe enough to rise to the level of adverse employment actions. (Kobos v. Target Corporation, et al., ED NY, 2018)

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