HR procedures can help prevent a national origin discrimination lawsuit.

by on January 5, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Do your company’s workers know how to file a complaint?

Most firms have a procedure for complaining about a boss. But if no one knows what the procedure is, it does little good and can be the beginning of a big national origin discrimination lawsuit.

Service manager Andres Valencia had to deal with more than customer complaints and technicians’ schedules: He claimed his boss, Edward Whiteman, was a bigot.

No one had ever told him

After several months, Valencia had enough of Whiteman’s ethnic slurs. Unfortunately, no one had ever told him of the company’s complaint process.

So, instead of going to HR as he was supposed to do, he told another supervisor. The supervisor spoke with Whiteman. But Whiteman continued to insult Valencia every day.

After Valencia complained a second time, he was given a new job – Internet Manager – under a different supervisor. This decision was approved by senior management and HR, but neither knew why Valencia was getting transferred. As far as they knew, he’d requested it.

In Valencia’s eyes, the transfer was a demotion, even though the salary was unchanged. He quit and filed a national origin discrimination lawsuit.

Witnesses backed Valencia

Not only had Whiteman harassed him, but the reassignment looked like retaliation. This case was settled before the court ruled. Valencia won $60,000 for his humiliation and suffering.

This case reminds us to let employees know: If you have a complaint, don’t just go to a supervisor you like. Go to HR, which is there to investigate and resolve problems.

Cite: Valencia v. Route 23 Honda

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