I occasionally report on Stupid HR situations. The EEOC told the story of one such situation, in a recent press release titled Downhole Technology to Pay $120,000 To Settle EEOC Suit for Race-Based Harassment and Retaliation. The company reaction to an employee’s claim qualifies as “stupid HR” in my opinion.
Not a joke
If you have any awareness at all about race relations you have to know that the presence of someone wearing a white hood is an unsettling event for an African-American individual. It becomes more so when it is used by your co-workers to ridicule, harass, and insult you. The error gets compounded when, once a complaint is filed, it is written off by the company as “a joke.”
That is the situation that an employee found himself in at work in a fracking industry company. After his complaint and the company telling him it was all a joke, they then tried to get him to sign a statement that the company had investigated and had solved the situation to his satisfaction. When the employee refused to sign the agreement they fired him, thus compounding their error. Now they have added retaliation to his forthcoming complaint to the EEOC.
When the EEOC got the compliant they tried to conciliate with the company. The company then made another mistake by refusing to conciliate. The EEOC then brought suit against the company which quickly settled with the EEOC.
This series of mistakes has led to a settlement that consists of:
- $120,000 pay out to the ex-employee
- Training for all employees, including supervisors, on Title VII
- Education on the history of hate groups (anyone want to guess which one in particular?)
- The company has to revamp its discrimination policy; and
- Establish a toll-free telephone number through which employees will be able to report discrimination and harassment.
Pretty expensive joke! Plus it cost the company a good employee.
Some things just are not funny
Having lived in the South as long as I have, I have learned that somethings are not funny. White hoods, nooses, and graphic graffiti strike fear in people, just as they are meant to. No reasonable person would see them as funny. That is what makes this case one of Stupid HR.