This case involves alleged workplace discrimination at a large media agency. According to the complaint, an employee was subjected to a series of discriminatory practices based on their religion, which created a hostile work environment for the employee. On multiple occasions, the employee reported these instances of harassment, but the company did not take any measures to combat this discrimination. An expert in human resources with knowledge of corporate policies at large companies was sought to opine on this case.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please describe your experience in human resources, including any background at large corporations and in academia.
- 2. What mechanisms are typically in place to report and stop discrimination at large companies?
Expert Witness Response E-011445
I have been a human resources professor for 20 years and have provided deposition/testimony in a dozen employment law matters, mostly focused on discrimination and harassment. I have also been interviewed by news outlets such as Dateline, NBC, NPR’s Kojo Show, The Washington Post, and Forbes, and US News & World Report for a host of news pieces on discrimination and harassment.
Most organizations have some sort of formal policy, the content of which varies a great deal from organization to organization. Sometimes, this will include a zero-tolerance statement, sometimes not. The policy usually dictates multiple avenues for reporting (supervisor, human resources, an anonymous hotline, etc.). In some instances, organizations also provide some type of training (the substance of which, again, varies widely), which may reinforce the organization’s policy and reporting procedures, and define what behaviors constitute harassment and/or discrimination. I also look at finer-grained elements of policy implementation. If a report was made, who investigated it? Whom did that person interview? What conclusion was reached? If a policy violation was confirmed, what disciplinary action was taken? Is this action consistent with the organization’s discipline policy? If the case involves a human resources decision (e.g., selection, promotion, termination), I also consider the specific policies and forms used for making those decisions: e.g., how much room for subjectivity there is on the performance appraisal form, how similar the application of the performance appraisal process from employee to employee is.