Magazine article HRMagazine

Employee Witness Protected in Bias Investigation

Magazine article HRMagazine

Employee Witness Protected in Bias Investigation

Article excerpt

Sayger v. Riceland Foods Inc., 8th Cir., No. 12-3301.

An employee who supports a colleague's allegations of discrimination by participating in an employer's internal investigation is acting to vindicate the rights of minorities and is entitled to the same protections under Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 as his co-workers who maintained the original complaint-even if the participating employee is not a minority himself, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.

Riceland Foods hired Tony Sayger, who is white, as a maintenance employee in 1999. In May 2009, Sayger participated in an internal investigation into a complaint filed by two black co-workers alleging that a supervisor, Ralph Crane, had made inappropriate racial comments. The investigation centered on Crane's frequent use of offensive language about black employees. Sayger supported his colleagues, testifying that Crane directed racial epithets at them, denigrated their work and made other inappropriate remarks.

Riceland found that the supervisor acted inappropriately and used derogatory racial language. It ordered him to take diversity training but took no other disciplinary action. …

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