"Trust but verify" all the stories in ethnic discrimination cases

by on January 15, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

HR needs to check up everyone’s claims in ethnic discrimination investigations

When making a personnel decision, it’s tempting to rely on the opinion of an experienced line manager who has daily contact with the employee in question.

Get the manager’s opinion, sure, but don’t neglect your own due diligence. If you rubberstamp a recommendation from a manager with a hidden bias, you could be setting yourself up for an ethnic discrimination lawsuit.

Harmful bias
A new illustration of that principle comes from a case in New Mexico.

An African-American employee was fired after a Hispanic manager said he’d been insubordinate. The HR person who made the decision didn’t know the employee, but relied on the manager’s story and the employee’s file, containing a previous incident of insubordination.

What the file didn’t show was that last time, the employee was told he couldn’t miss work for the funeral of a young man whom he’d raised as his own son. This was enough to make anybody mad.

Nor did the file reveal what the employee brought out in his lawsuit for racial and ethnic discrimination: The manager had a habit of favoring white and Hispanic employees over African-Americans.

A federal court said the employee’s case was strong enough to go to trial.

The key: Do your own investigation before disciplining an employee. Even if a biased manager is involved, your decision can withstand an ethnic discrimination lawsuit if you fairly assess the situation yourself.

Cite: EEOC v. BCI Coca-Cola Bottling Co., No. 04-2220, 10th Cir., 6/7/06.

Leave a Reply


Request a Free Demo

We'd love to show you how this industry-leading training system can help you develop your team. Please fill out this quick form or give us a call at 877-792-2172 to schedule your one-on-one demo with a Rapid Learning Specialist.