• An African American supervisor at a state-operated eating facility failed to show that her employer was liable for the hostile racial comments made by other non-supervisory employees when the employer acted promptly to investigate the complaint and when it took other measures to ensure that the comments stopped, according to the federal court of appeals with jurisdiction over New Jersey law.In this case, the African American supervisor and a white co-worker complained that each had made racially tainted remarks to the other. The employer investigated, separated the two and took the extra step of assigning an outside counselor to see if tensions within the work group could be remedied.Thereafter, the employer assigned an HR staffer to serve as the point person to provide ongoing support and consultation. Additionally, everyone in the workplace had to attend mandatory diversity and anti-harassment training sessions.After the training sessions, the employee advised HR that she overheard two white employees who were purchasing food in the cafĂ© complain about poor service by stating, "Back in the day, down South, blacks would have been hung for things like that." The HR office asked her to identify the employees, which she was unable to do.Then another white employee commented that the cafĂ© had "changed" when the African American employee had arrived and that she wanted the old supervisor back. The supervisors again complained and this time was able to identify the offending employee, who was white. The employer spoke with that employee, explained that her comment was inappropriate in light of the racial tension in the cafĂ© and said the incident would be formally addressed in her next performance review.The African American supervisor didn't report any further incidents but sued the employer alleging she had been forced to work in a racially hostile work environment.After fact finding, the trial court dismissed the lawsuit and the court of appeals agreed. They looked at the efforts the employer made to address the supervisor's concerns and found them reasonably calculated to prevent and stop harassment. Although they may not have been immediately effective, it appeared that over time they were.Hiring an outside counselor, warning employees that racially charged statements would influence performance reviews and mandating anti-harassment training sessions were all reasonable actions designed to prevent and stop any further harassment, the court said. Peace-Wickham v. Walls.Case Law Summary April 2011