Ask the ExpertProgressive Discipline for Discrimination
hri_Admin Staff asked 5 years ago

We have a situation between one worker who is of east Indian decent, and a second worker who is Caucasian. The Caucasian worker has put in a complaint that the worker of Wast Indian decent has made racial, and condescending comments towards them for having a different background and lesser working capabilities. After investigation on both sides, the East Indian worker denies any remarks, although discrimination has occurred in the plants before between other workers from both races, because of a heavy mixed culture environment. The East Indian worker has been investigated on two different occasions for accusations. We have made many efforts to educate and implement policies against discrimination and repercussions for doing so. How do we proceed with with disciplinary actions if the East Indian worker denies it, and we do not have any additional proof that it has occurred?

1 Answers
Glenn Demby Staff answered 5 years ago

This is a difficult situation and creates a disparate impact where you could be perceived as being complicit with harassment or racial epithets because they originate with a minority.

We recommend ammending both your progressive discipline and harassment policies to contain some zero-tolerance language.

As well, you need to understand that the burden of proof is to prove the harassment took place and not accept heresay or one side as binding testimony.

Is this something that can be resolved through a mediated discussion with both parties in the room where you guide the discussion about how the comments are being perceived although they may not be intended as such. Remember to avoid words like race and harassment, if the participants bring it up, allow the conversation to progress, but mediate the emotion.

You will more likely get a better resolution from that than from trying to pursue progressive discipline when you do not feel you haave met the burden of proof.