Many companies across the United States offer cultural sensitivity training to their management teams in an effort to prevent a hostile work environment and promote workplace diversity. Whether companies offer training sessions, videos or documents, they should ensure that the training materials themselves are not potentially offensive. Unfortunately for one Target distribution warehouse in California, a training document about Hispanic employees led to the filing of an employment discrimination suit by three former workers, who are Hispanic.
The lawsuit claims that the distribution warehouse distributed a document to the management team outlining how to handle Hispanic workers. The document addressed various Hispanic stereotypes, such as Mexicans not being well-educated and Cubans being political refugees. The former workers believe the document itself to be offensive, but they also claim in the lawsuit that their supervisors frequently used racial slurs when addressing Hispanic employees.
One of the former employees took his complaint to the human resources department. A short time later, he was fired, along with the two other workers who filed the suit. They are claiming that their termination was retaliation by their bosses for reporting the employment discrimination.
Target released a statement claiming that the document distributed in the California warehouse was not part of a company-approved training program, and they apologized for its contents. Regardless, California law protects workers from employment discrimination and may allow them to sue their employers as long as certain requirements are met. Individuals who feel that they are being treated unfairly at work should consult with someone who is knowledgeable about employment law in order to gain a full understanding of their rights in our state.
Source: Huffington Post, "Target Reminded Bosses Not All Hispanic Employees Eat Tacos, Wear Sombreros: Lawsuit," Kim Bhasin, July 9, 2013