Employers in New York should ensure that they have policies in place to prevent discrimination and should treat any allegations of discrimination seriously. In a case heard by the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals that was filed against General Motors by an employee, the court ruled on the employer’s side.
In this case, a female employee said that women were treated differently from men. She said that her supervisor referred to women using such words as lazy, sloppy and uneducated. The court said these were simply rude statements and did not prove discrimination. She also claimed that she was scapegoated for the errors of a male coworker. The court said one instance over a three-year period was not enough to allege discrimination.
Additional claims were that women were not permitted to work from home, were not included in meetings and were treated disrespectfully. According to the court’s decision, this was discriminatory without being an abusive environment. The court also said that while the comments of a supervisor about the African-American employee having a child with a white employee were offensive, they did not make the work environment abusive. Despite these rulings, employers should not consider any level of discrimination acceptable and should investigate all complaints thoroughly, even if the same employee keeps making them.
Employers may want to work with an attorney to ensure that they are observing all laws regarding workplace discrimination. If they do not have a policy in place, they may want to work with the attorney to create one, or they may want to have an attorney review their policy. If an employee has made an allegation of discrimination, they might want to consult the attorney to ensure that they are taking the proper steps to investigate it.