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Discrimination-Free environment required, perfection a bonus

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

The workplace has never been nor will it ever be utopia. Managers and supervisors won’t always see eye to eye with employees. Conflict is almost inevitable.

Thus, courts don’t expect employers to provide perfect workplaces free of all strife. Judges expect employers to obey discrimination laws, but they also realize that not every slight or inconvenience is evidence of discrimination.

So don’t sweat the occasional personality conflict or disagreement. Chances are—even if it makes some employees angry—it won’t lead to a discrimination verdict.

Recent case:
While working for the U.S. Postal Service, Theresa Hancock hurt her back. From that point forward, Hancock had a series of conflicts with management.

They went back and forth on possible accommodations for her condition. Hancock believed supervisors wanted her to do work that might aggravate her injury. She complained often, filing several discrimination complaints. But none stuck.

Finally, she filed a federal lawsuit, alleging sex and disability discrimination and other charges.

But the court tossed out her case. First, it said there was no evidence she was disabled since her medical problems were temporary. Next, it said she hadn’t pointed to anyone outside her protected class who was treated better than she had been treated.

While the court said she had been “treated somewhat unkindly,” that didn’t amount to discrimination. Supervisors may have disliked her and regarded her unkindly because she wasn’t a team player, but that’s not illegal. That’s personal. (Hancock v. Potter, No. 07-1589, 7th Cir., 2008)

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