Employees in Ohio and throughout the country are protected by federal law from discrimination based on certain characteristics, but this does not mean that they do not face it. However, after one woman filed a lawsuit against General Motors, a court found that the incidents described did not rise to a level that would make the environment hostile or discriminatory.
The woman did not provide specific information on the incidents that she said involved being scapegoated for mistakes made by a male employee. As a result, the court found that just an instance of scapegoating over three years was not enough to establish discrimination. Furthermore, the court found that even though the woman’s supervisor called women lazy, sloppy and uneducated, this also did not establish that women were treated differently. The woman reported that her employers excluded women employers from meetings and would not let them work from home. The woman was African-American, and she also alleged that her employer made a comment about a child between her and a white employee. The court ruled that this did not constitute an abusive environment.
Despite these rulings, employers should not assume that any level of bias or discrimination is acceptable. They should also thoroughly investigation any allegations, even if the same person repeatedly makes reports.
Employers should take steps to ensure that there are policies in place to discourage and deal with discrimination. They might want a clear path for employees to follow who need to report discrimination and include an option to report to someone besides a supervisor in case the supervisor is the problem. An attorney may be able to assist an employer in putting together an effective policy to prevent discrimination as well as help in defending against related claims.