For Louisiana businesses, the current climate in which people are lodging a seemingly record number of complaints about mistreatment on the job carries with it a dual-edged sword. On one side, they do not want to appear insensitive to allegations of discrimination, harassment and other legal violations. On the other, they need to protect themselves from incidents that would otherwise be ignored and are relatively innocuous. It is a difficult road to navigate, but when there are allegations of wrongdoing, having a strong legal defense is crucial.
A 26-year-old woman who was working in sales at a health club says that she, an African-American, received racially charged text messages from a supervisor. She had worked at the club for five months. According to her, it was a comment about her hair and that it did not meet club standards. She was dismissed and says it was racially motivated. She says that the supervisors were white and there were only two African-Americans employed at her club; that she had previously heard racial comments about club members and that she taped some of the exchanges; and she was asked inappropriate racial questions and her hair was touched without her consent.
After three months, she complained to the general manager of the club. As they were discussing it, she claims that the general manager told another employee to advertise for a replacement for her. No ad was placed, but she asserts her experience at the club worsened. According to her, she received another racially insensitive text message about her hair. She was later fired for what was said to have been a bad work ethic and infrequent attendance. She was offered a settlement, but refused and filed a lawsuit.
While any allegation of racial insensitivity in the workplace is troublesome, it does not necessarily mean the allegations are completely accurate. There might have been a misunderstanding or the worker could be exaggerating certain claims as part of a legal filing to be compensated. Even in the most uncomfortable circumstances, having legal help that is experienced in business law and can assist with lodging a defense against such accusations in the workplace. Any business that is dealing with a case like this should have assistance from a business law firm that understands these cases and can craft a strong defense.