February 1, 2011

“Total Bullsh*t”: good HR response – not!

Posted in Discrimination, Gender / Sex, Harassment, Reprisal, Retaliation, Training tagged , , at 9:20 am by Tom Jacobson

Yes, this stuff still happens …

Rebecca Young-Losee was an administrative assistant at Graphic Packaging, International, Inc.   According to the allegations in her federal lawsuit now pending in Iowa,  her supervisor called her “retarded,” “crippled,” “stupid,” and a “bitch.”  Understandably upset by this treatment, she complained multiple times to the company’s plant manager, production manager, office manager, and human resources representative.  The HR representative advised her to submit a “formal complaint of harassment,” which Young-Losee did.

After submitting the formal complaint, Young-Losee met with the plant manager and two other managers.  During this meeting, the plant manager interrupted Young-Losee and would not allow her speak.  Eventually, he wadded up her complaint, threw it in the trash, told her it was “total bullshit,” pointed to the door and said “I want you out of here” and that he never wanted to see her again.

Not too surprisingly, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled on January 26, 2011 that Young-Losee’s lawsuit for being fired in retaliation for making her discrimination complaint may proceed.  You can read the full opinion at Young-Losee v Graphic Packaging International, Inc.

This case is a classic example of how a poor response by an employer can generate a lawsuit that might have been completely avoidable.  Young-Losee’s underlying harassment complaint may actually be total BS, but she had a right to complain.   Unfortunately, GPI’s alleged reaction has led to costly litigation that probably could have been avoided had GPI’s managers taken her complaint seriously and responded with reasonable actions aimed at promptly ending the harassment.

If you have any questions about this post, please contact me at taj@alexandriamnlaw.com.

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney.

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