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Relying On Stereotypes Will Put a Target On Your Back

The better job you do of insulating your business’s personnel decisions from stereotypes, the less often you will find yourself in need of my services—which is a positive stereotype you can embrace.

August 22, 2013

According to The Huffington Post, a group of Hispanic employees is suing Target for national origin discrimination. Their evidence—an internal memo that included the following “Multi-Cultural Tips” for its managers:

a. Food: not everyone eats tacos and burritos;

b. Music: not everyone dances to salsa;

c. Dress: not everyone wears a sombrero;

d. Mexicans (lower education level, some may be undocumented);

e. Cubans (Political refugees, legal status, higher education level); and

f. They may say ‘OK, OK’ and pretend to understand, when they do not, just to save face.

That’s a pretty good smoking gun, if you ask me.

It served as a good reminder about the dangers of stereotypes in the workplace.

There is no hiding that stereotypes—both positive and negative—exist. To some degree we all harbor them (and anyone who tells you differently is lying to you and themselves). The better job you do of insulating your business’s personnel decisions from stereotypes, the less often you will find yourself in need of my services—which is a positive stereotype you can embrace.

Written by Jon Hyman, a partner in the Labor & Employment group of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. For more information, contact Jon at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com. You can also follow Jon on Twitter @jonhyman.