Monday, August 15, 2005

I Got the Redneck Customer Blues

Think that you have to deal with customers at work that continuously attack you based on your religion or race? Even if it’s just to keep your job? Well, think again. Thanks to the recent case of Galdamez v. Potter (No. 03-35682), Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, July 15, 2005, the Court expanded an employer’s liability to include harassment and discrimination of an employee by an employer’s own customers.

This was a case of Honduran v. Rednecks.

PLAINTIFF: Arlene Galdamez, a Honduran native who spoke English with an accent. She claims that the town of Willamina, Oregon, where she had been promoted and relocated to, was out to get her because of her national origin, race, and accent.
DEFENDANT: The US Postal Service. They claim that they had no liability for redneck racism towards Galdamez. Besides, Galdamez was a rude monster.

Galdamez complained to USPS that she endured offensive verbal comments from customers, references in local newspapers to her accent, and direct threats to her safety. According to Galdamez, one customer warned her that Willamina was a “redneck town” and that “[e]veryone” would get together and “come kill her” if she continued her job.

USPS did not investigate Galdamez’s claims but did investigate complaints by its employees that Galdamez was rude and lacking good customer service, and eventually placed Galdamez on administrative leave and issued her a formal warning letter. Galdamez promptly filed a lawsuit against USPS in federal court alleging race, color, and national origin discrimination in violation of Title VII.

The Ninth Circuit went against the Rednecks and held that an employer may be liable for third party (customers, vendors, etc.) harassment “where it ratifies or condones the conduct by failing to investigate and remedy it after learning of it.”

"If the pink slip doesn't fit,
get redressed!"
Link to see my wardrobe of remedies.

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