Email: What You Say When No One’s Looking?

Discrimination and harassment lawsuits can be complicated.  How does a party prove that the other party holds racist, sexist, etc. beliefs?  It can and has been done without “confessions.”  In today’s world, emails are where individuals may show their “true colors.”   

Recently, for example, an employer uncovered racially charged emails sent by an employee over its email server.  Problematic?  You bet!  

In this case, the employer responded quickly to an employee’s complaint about a racially charged email and directed that an investigation ensue.  In so doing, the employer will be able to identify the scope of the problem, rectify – if possible – employment related harms that may have been committed by individuals that appear to harbor racist sentiments, and discipline and train employees who are retained moving forward.  

Additionally, the employer’s quick action demonstrates that its walk matches its talk when it comes to such problems.  A fact that will encourage employees to act professionally and respectfully and to raise concerns with confidence that they will be addressed by the employer.  Will this response to the complaint stave off a lawsuit?  There is no guarantee, and certainly the scope of the problem may be too big to ignore. But, investigating and taking action quickly to stop further problems is rarely something that will be frowned upon by a judge or a jury.

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