California HR

News Notes: Loose Lips And Thoughtless Comments Get Employers Sued

In two recent cases, employers are facing lawsuits based on inappropriate comments the complaining employee never heard or saw. In the first case, a Mexican-American applicant rejected for a position at State Farm Insurance got the green light to sue because the hiring manager later allegedly referred to another employee as a “dumb Mexican.” Although the comment was not heard by the applicant and was claimed to be made well after the hiring decision, the court ruled the manager’s remark was evidence of racial hatred-which could be the reason the applicant was rejected.8 In the other case, a 59-year-old terminated employee was awarded $444,975 in damages for age discrimination, in part because of a company newsletter published three years after he was fired. It praised the fact that newly hired employees had less experience than the company average, which “had been creeping up”-suggesting a company attitude favoring younger, less experienced workers.