A company in Southern California meant well when it decided to create its own training video. But the training got a little too real.
The company asked three managers to videotape a role-play about a time-off request. They wrote up a scenario, acted it out, and gave the tape to an employee for editing. That’s where things went off the rails.
The employee, a homosexual man named Juan, had previously complained of hostility toward him based on his sexual orientation.
In the video, his own manager was playing the part of an employee asking for a day off to attend the “bar mitzvah” of his “Auntie Juan,” a “transsexual.”
Juan concluded that his boss was making fun of him. He returned the video unedited, asked for an investigation, and took leave. He never returned to work, and sued for discrimination and retaliation.
A court gave him $930,000 in damages and costs. And an appeals court has just confirmed the judgment.
Takeaway: It’s all well and good to have some fun with training scenarios, but not when the fun comes at the expense of other employees.
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