Hey Compliance Warriors!
Today we have a short episode as we discuss a court case on discrimination in the workplace.
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Enjoy and until next time, Be Audit Secure!
Introduction: Small business spoonful’s is a weekly Q and a with Lisa Smith and Mason Merrell providing the answers to questions you have about running your small business. This podcast is sponsored by H .com you are a busy employer. We are your employment law compliance desk visit, help sweets.com to find out more and become a member. Now here’s your host, Lisa Smith and Mason Merrell.
Lisa: Welcome back to another edition of Small Business Spoonful’s. I’m Lisa Smith…
Mason: and I’m Mason Merrell.
Lisa: And today we are talking about a court case
Mason: We we’re talking sued for bias.
Lisa: Yes. Now this was a situation where there was a school system.
Lisa: Who maybe they had documented and realized that, um, they were in the wrong. Now we’re not saying you shouldn’t document because you have to document everything you do.
Mason: That’s right.
Lisa: But you also have to be willing to stand behind everything you do. And even if you’re doing it wrong, you need to step up and own it.
Lisa: Because if you don’t own it when you need to, it’s going to cost you a lot of money. So here is the case. We had this gentleman who was a school teacher and he was a part of a protected class. Okay. So, he claimed that he had been forced out of his job after he had gone to a school board meeting and he had criticized several school district policies.He said after he did this, it led up to being forced out because he was singled out for investigations. You know, he was often brought in for discipline and you know, there were a lot of particulars that went on where he felt like he was being targeted.
Mason: or bullied
Lisa: or bullied. Yeah, maybe going back to that episode. Yeah. And then ultimately, he was transferred out of this district and so he went and got an attorney and he sued for discrimination. So his lawyers did what lawyers will do in this situation is they, you know, went to the school and they said we want to see all of your records for all of your teachers who had similar situations and we want to see how you treated them and the school district I think got a little freaked out.They did probably the worst thing you can do.
Mason: They did the wrong thing in this situation refused to turn over anything to the lawyers.
Lisa: Yeah. They, they had a lame excuse. They said, oh well we should only have to turn over information on teachers with the same supervisor.
Mason: Which is wrong.
Lisa: So, what do you think they were trying to insinuate here by saying we should only turn over situations with the same supervisor?
Mason: They were trying to throw somebody else under the bus.
Lisa: Exactly. So, they knew they were wrong. They knew they were going down the toilet drain. Right. They knew that they didn’t want it to be the whole school system that was on the six o’clock news. They just wanted it to be like Mr. Jones that was on the six o’clock news.
Mason: That one supervisor that they were trying to throw under the bus.
Lisa: That’s what they were doing.So, like that’s pretty crummy and itself.
Mason: It’s just kind of ignorant to think that the court’s not going to find that out. Whenever courts are involved you want to cooperate as much as possible and a refusal in a situation like this under those terms is just so blatant.
Lisa: But guess what? They have an attorney at that school system probably that advise them to do that stupid thing to say to give that answer and I’m just going to use the word stupid because you know that is ridiculous. What the advice here should have been is well school system, you got caught with your pants down. So what we need to do now is sit down at the table with that other attorney and make a deal. We don’t want this to go to court. We don’t want this on the six o’clock news. We just want to settle with this guy and we want to move on and we want to figure out what we’re going to do going forward so we don’t get into this situation again. But Heck No. They wanted to fight about it.
Mason: So of course, the court disagreed with their statement and ordered all of the information be released and then everything was out there and exposed
Lisa: All the dirty laundry was hanging out there for everybody to see. So then when that happens like that, I mean it’s public information, especially like you’re dealing with a school system here. So that’s public anyway, , they’re getting all this info and now this school system just looks terrible here, I mean I don’t even want to go into all the backlash that’s going to come to this. Whether it was a school system or not it could be any company. When this kind of stuff happens, the media gets a hold of these stories and they’re going to be like, “Hey Jones feed and see down here is in trouble for this or that.”
Lisa: So, it doesn’t matter what kind of company it is, but it looked really bad in my eyes here because it was a public employer. It was the government employer that was doing that wrong. And we kind of expect a higher level of conduct.
Mason: What is the advice here? What can an organization do to make sure they can prevent this?
Lisa: Well, I am a huge proponent of internal auditing. So, I talk all the time about be audit secure, you know, go do yourself audits, break everything down at least once a year or in a good rotation I guess I should say. Look at what you’re doing. So, like disciplinary actions are a really good example of audit your disciplinary policies, making sure that everyone is being treated fairly, that you’re not singling people out. And you know, it’s hard because like we pointed out one time when we’re talking about bullying and so forth, if big boss is the problem, then it’s going to be hard to fix this. So, like if you’re the one auditing this situation, but you’re the problem, you’re not going to fix it. So, we want to have input, we maybe we want to form committees of folks who help us handle these internal audits, right? That way many hands make the work light or whatever make the load light. So, we want to do that kind of the thing so that we can get it done. We can have unbiased eyes looking at it.
Mason: And then guess what, you’ll have documentation on what’s been done in that is so valuable in a courtroom.
Lisa: And if you do find where you’ve made errors and you haven’t been treating people properly, you can move to fix those problems internally before, not to cover anything up, but to fix the problems and move forward in a correct manner.
Mason: And if it is one supervisor that’s causing a problem, you can figure that out before this all goes haywire.
Lisa: Exactly. Because you want to be feeling good, you want to be audit secure, you want to feel safe and secure. When that, that request or that demand comes free to hand over those records. Clearly that school system was not secure. They were incredibly unsecure. Giving that stupid answer to throw that supervisor under the bus.
Mason: Yep that’s right, “Document Your Discipline”, that’s the title of this episode that can’t be stressed enough. Document, document, document everything.
Lisa: And be fair.
Mason: Think things through before you give an answer like that.
Lisa: Yeah and just because an attorney says to do it and no hating on attorneys, I’m not doing that. I’m just saying that was to me, like you can comment, you can write me, and you can tell me how wrong I am, but to me that was bad advice and it showed and yeah, they paid. So anyway, just think it through.
Mason: Okay, Well, it was a short one for today. Until next time…
Lisa: I’m Lisa Smith…
Mason: and I’m Mason Merrell.
Lisa: Be Audit Secure
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