LITIGATION VALUE: $350,000
My grandmother always said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I never knew exactly what she meant. Until now. Michael’s diversity training, well intentioned as it may have been, provides ample evidence of discriminatory bias against employees of Indian descent in general and of Kelly in particular. Indeed, Michael’s PowerPoint on famous Indians includes only three people — one of whom is the fictional character Apu from The Simpsons.
Standing alone, the events in this week’s episode, taken either together or separately, probably will not be actionable national origin harassment. It’s a close call, but, generally, one offensive meeting is not enough. On the other hand, if Kelly were to include all of the offensive conduct from past episodes, including the diversity training episode in season one when employees had to act out traits from various ethnic groups, then she has a good case. A very good one. And the fact that Toby sat in Michael’s “Indian Cultural Seminar” without shutting it down just makes it worse.
My recommendation would be to pay Kelly off early. The court is not going to dismiss her claims before trial, and the company is going to spend a lot of money preparing for a trial that it will probably lose. After all, there is simply no positive spin that I can put on Michael’s use of the Kama Sutra as a handout in his meeting.