Monday, March 16, 2009

"Get Something On Them - Whether True or Not"

What is workplace retaliation? Instructing supervisors to “get something on them, whether true or not,” because of employees' complaints of harassment. And then firing them.

N-W Ventures, LLC subjected a class of African American restaurant and bar workers to discrimination, including racial harassment and retaliation, according to a lawsuit filed by the US Equal Opportunity Commission.

Eight black employees and others were forced to endure racist epithets and insults on many occasions, according to the EEOC's lawsuit. When some employees complained, managers retaliated against them by instructing supervisors to “get something on them, whether true or not,” and then fired them in retaliation, the EEOC alleged.

N-M Ventures LLC settled the lawsuit, and besides paying $457,500 to the discrimination targets, the company is prohibited from discriminating based on race, and from retaliating against any employee because he or she opposed discrimination. Further, the company must establish an appropriate and effective reporting mechanism for handling complaints of discrimination, and provide training for its managers and employees with respect to the law against racial discrimination and harassment and retaliation at its Las Vegas facility. The company owns several bars, steakhouses and lounges in Las Vegas, Chicago and Dallas.

It's bad enough to instruct supervisors to "get something on them," as this is usually considered retaliatory hyper-scrutiny, but to say "whether true or not" is a revolting example of retaliation. Instead, the company should have protected the workers from retaliation, investigated the reports, and fired the harassers and retaliators.

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