Editor’s Note: Most managers are diligent, empathetic and savvy professionals who know how to get the best from their people and stay on the right side of the law. And then there are the other ones — those whose blunders land them in court, on the news and, sometimes, on HR blogs. Here are a few cautionary tales from the darker side of management:

You’re never too old to Google…
A manager at search engine giant Google told an over-50 employee that his ideas were “obsolete” and “too old to matter.” And when the man was terminated, he sued for age discrimination. Now, six years after the suit was filed, the California Supreme Court has finally agreed that it is strong enough to go to trial. Google argued that ageist comments about the fired employee were mere “stray remarks” and didn’t prove any bias. But the court took a different view. The manager allegedly made age-related remarks about the employee every few weeks for a year and a half, and co-workers also weighed in, calling him an “old fuddy-duddy” whose knowledge was “ancient.”
Cite: Reid v. Google Inc.

Watermelon-eating contest — yep, it’s as bad as you think
Managers organized a watermelon-eating contest at an Arkansas rehabilitation center, then fired an African-American employee who complained. The employee also told management that her supervisor made racist comments. She was fired for making what the employer termed “false, defamatory and malicious” statements. The EEOC has now sued the employer for retaliation.
Cite: EEOC v. StoneRidge Health & Rehab Center.

Hands off the help!
Remember: Unless you happen to work for TSA, keep your hands to yourself. In Kemah, TX, near Houston, a hair salon manager didn’t like the way a stylist was cutting a client’s hair. So, according to the employee, the boss repeatedly yanked her backward, injuring her knee. The stylist filed a police report accusing the boss of assault. When the manager fired her, she sued for wrongful termination.
Cite: Lindsey v. Sports Clips IP.

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