Workplace Culture

Employer’s Prompt Response to Racial Epithets

By James Denis

Jan. 22, 2010

Rasheen Griffin, an African-American security guard employed by Harrisburg Property Services Inc. in Pennsylvania, was supervised by Thomas Kimble, a Caucasian. Griffin alleged that Kimble began making racially offensive comments in June 2007. Kimble text-messaged Griffin that black people existed because “God left them in the oven too long.” In another text message, Kimble used the word “nigga” and compared “black babies” to bats. Kimble also said that AIDS existed “because black men have sex with monkeys.”

On October 19, 2007, Griffin complained to Harrisburg Property Services’ human resources department about Kimble’s comments, as well as alleged racial profiling by security guards and racially based staffing decisions. After the company investigated Griffin’s complaints, Kimble was issued a final warning for sending “inappropriate jokes.” Griffin was transferred so he would not have to report to Kimble. The company also conducted in-house diversity training for its staff. During a November 2007 meeting, an HR representative met with Griffin to discuss the investigation of his complaints and the remedial measures taken. When asked whether Griffin had further concerns, he replied “no.”

Griffin filed a lawsuit against the company in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, alleging racial harassment and discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In dismissing Kimble’s claims, the district court found that Harrisburg Property Services could not be held liable unless it had acted “negligently in failing to take the appropriate remedial action upon notice of the harassment.” Since the company had taken measures “reasonably calculated to remedy the harassment,” it could not be held liable for Kimble’s conduct, even though those comments created a hostile work environment. Griffin v. Harrisburg Prop. Svcs. Inc., M.D. Pa., No. 08-1655 (11/23/09).

Impact: Prompt investigation of discrimination or harassment complaints, coupled with appropriate disciplinary action, shields employers from such claims.

Workforce Management, January 14, 2010, p. 8Subscribe Now!

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

What’s New at

blog workforce

Come see what we’re building in the world of predictive employee scheduling, superior labor insights and next-gen employee apps. We’re on a mission to automate workforce management for hourly employees and bring productivity, optimization and engagement to the frontline.

Book a call
See the software

Related Articles

workforce blog

Workplace Culture

Workplace productivity statistics and trends you need to know

Summary There was a 2.4% decrease in productivity in Q2 2022 – the largest decline since the U.S. Burea...

productivity, statistics, trends, workplace

workforce blog

Workplace Culture

5 lunch break statistics that shed light on American work culture

Summary Research shows how taking lunch breaks enhances employee engagement and productivity. Despite t...

lunch breaks, scheduling, statistics

workforce blog

Workplace Culture

6 Things Leadership can do to Prevent Nurse Burnout

Summary Nurse burnout is a serious issue in the healthcare business and has several negative consequenc...

burnout, Healthcare, hospitals, nurses