Lack of Training Results in Human Rights Claim

The Star Tribune reported late last year on a settlement by Fairview Health Services and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights over Fairview’s denial of an American Sign Language interpreter for a deaf man whose daughter was undergoing medical treatment. Under the settlement, Fairview must improve training for all hospital staff. Minnesota Commissioner of Human Rights Keven Lindsey said staff training issues were a factor in the case and said, “Unfortunately there wasn’t adequate training.” This case underscores the importance of business not just putting policies in place but taking necessary action, such a mandatory training, for supervisors as well as all employees. Lommen Abdo employment law attorney, Stacey DeKalb, commented that “Employers often underestimate the importance of providing training to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace until they find themselves defending a claim of harassment or discrimination. Conducting appropriate training, however, can mean the difference between having a defensible claim and being automatically liable.” DeKalb also noted that the cost of taking preventative measures to avoid potential exposure for claims of harassment and discrimination is small compared to the costs an employer faces in defending, much less losing, a claim of harassment or discrimination – as well as the damage to its business reputation by such adverse publicity.  For more information, contact Stacey DeKalb at stacey@lommen.com or 612-336-9310.