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And Another Thing...

It is important to have company policies, update them frequently and train your staff on them. However, it is equally important to make sure you are enforcing these policies equally among employees. 

Recent Case: Chris Redford, a white male, worked for a Louisiana TV news station. The company has a social media policy prohibiting employees from responding to viewer complaints. Mr. Redford wrote a post on his personal Facebook page responding to a comment from a reader on a story he reported at the news station. Because of this Facebook post, the news station fired Mr. Redford. Mr. Redford claimed disparate treatment and argued that other African-American females who engaged in similar behavior were either offered second chances or not disciplined at all. To prove discrimination, it is the employee's burden to demonstrate that the employer treated other similarly-situated employees outside of the plaintiff's protected class more favorably under similar circumstances. The news stations argued that neither of the comparators to whom Mr. Redford compared himself were similarly-situated. 

In the court's opinion, it noted that similarly-situated does not mean "identical" and the two women who apparently received a second chance after violating the social media policy were close enough to Mr. Redford's situation. In this case, it appears the two women had the same job or responsibilities, shared the same supervisor or had their employment status determined by the same person, and have essentially comparable violation histories to Redford. The Court found that Mr. Redford "presented sufficient evidence to create a genuine dispute of fact as to whether his behavior was of "comparable seriousness" and as such, whether the circumstances are nearly identical." 

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Make sure that you, your HR members, managers, or anyone in a position to enforce company policies, know what the policies themselves say and apply them fairly and consistently among employees. For more information on this topic or others, contact RC Kelly Law Associates at 215-896-3846 or help@rckelly.com.



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