As many employers and workers in Minnesota know, promoting awareness and compassion among all employees is an important step to guaranteeing a discrimination-free work environment. However, efforts to create a productive and healthy workplace can only be truly effective if they are sincere and unbiased. If not, the very steps intended to encourage neutrality may actually reinforce prejudice. Unfortunately, some employees of a leading retailer may have been singled out by misguided efforts to inhibit race discrimination.
In the workplace discrimination lawsuit recently filed against Target, three plaintiffs accuse their employers at a California branch location of retaliating against them after the alleged victims voiced complaints to the company’s human resources department about hearing their superiors use derogatory racial terms in the workplace. The plaintiffs claim that the company issued an inappropriate document to their warehouse location that highlighted a number of racial stereotypes, and that all three plaintiffs were ultimately fired because of their race.
The document in question was evidently intended to educate employees on multi-cultural topics and promote cooperation among workers. Though, it served to do the opposite. Six main points were listed in the memo, each citing an offensive racial stereotype. From addressing how people of Latin American descent eat and dress to noting their education level and language skills, the paper reflected many common labels assigned to minority groups throughout the country.
Target does acknowledge that the document was used at one location, but contends that it does not reflect the company’s message or intent. The retailer has issued an apology and claims it will take responsibility for the paper. Though, it is not yet known how the lawsuit will be addressed and resolved.
Source: Huffington Post, “Target Admits Reminding Managers That Not All Hispanics ‘Wear Sombreros,’” Kim Bhasin, July 10, 2013