October 25, 2019

Before Bullies Break Your Budget – Exercise Bystander Intervention

A jury awarded a police officer $20 million as a result of discrimination based on sexual orientation and retaliation. What happened? Various reports include:
  • He was told to “tone down” his gayness
  • He was described by and to coworkers as “fruity” and “way too out there”
  • He was denied a promotion 23 times (I applaud his diligence!)
  • He was transferred to a less desirable location after filing an EEOC charge
How shall I pay thee? Let me count the ways. The jury awarded the officer: (1) $1.9 million in actual damages; and (2) $10 million in punitive damages for the discrimination charges; plus (3) $999,000 in actual damages; and (4) $7 million in punitive damages for the retaliation charges.


Lessons Learned?  The trial includes “accounts from fellow department employees.”  All of this might have been averted if someone had exercised a little bystander intervention! The nickname-calling behind his back should have been stopped. In 2016, the EEOC suggested employers include bystander intervention training in harassment prevention programs.  If you see something, say something. Remind your employees to give each other gentle reminders that demeaning, unkind, inappropriate and unprofessional conduct do not belong in the workplace.