Four separate lawsuits alleging racial discrimination have been filed against State Farm Insurance in recent weeks, and in each of the cases, the plaintiffs claim they faced firing and other retaliation for blowing the whistle on race discrimination in the workplace.
Professor Suja Thomas, an expert in discrimination law, said she hasn't noticed an increase in these types of discrimination cases in the corporate world, but said retaliation is common and there's a high legal bar to prove someone liable.
“The courts are interpreting the law in a very narrow way such that if someone is actually harassing in the workplace, you can have someone be touched multiple times and the courts will say that’s not enough to be considered sexual harassment under the law, case dismissed,” Thomas said.
Thomas said employers have to do more than host harassment training. She said they need to have a zero-tolerance policy toward any hostile behavior.
“Employers should want to have a good atmosphere for everyone where we don’t have bias occurring on a regular basis in our workplaces, so employers should push to do more,” she said, adding large corporations should not get a pass when it comes to establishing an inclusive culture.
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