Q & A Session – Hostile Workplace Incident


Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.


I am an African American female who works for a government agency. Approximately two weeks ago, two white individuals hung a banana from the ceiling over another African American’s desk. I have been extremely upset and stressed since the incident. I have filed an EEO complaint and so has the other victim of this incident.

Our Section Chief, who is white, has told one of the white individuals that “everything will be okay, they shouldn’t worry.”

I cannot understand why the two white individuals are allowed to continue to work in the area where the incident occurred while the matter is being investigated. It is extremely hard on me and the other African Americans. Shouldn’t they either be reassigned to another work area (the option exists) or suspended pending the outcome of the investigation?


Your claim should be investigated by the EEO office and human resources as a hostile work complaint. I am aware of similar situations where disciplinary action has resulted, but every case (and agency) is different).

Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.

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