We see many commercials about kindness. We teach our children about standing up for their classmates. So much of our focus these days is about reaching out to those in need and celebrating good deeds. So why can’t we seem to do the same in the workplace?

A female employee was recently awarded over $200,000 after she suffered employer retaliation for questioning her supervisor’s racially discriminating actions against co-workers.

The employee who filed the lawsuit had worked as an administrative assistant for over 30 years. During that time, she was seen as a good worker. Her former supervisor’s exact words used to describe her job performance as “outstanding.”

The problems began in 2006 when an African American employee filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunities Commission based upon specific discriminatory acts he said were based on race. When the female employee observed nearly the exact same scenario involving a Caucasian employee who did not have to jump through the same hoops as the African American employee, she spoke up.

After the female employee questioned her supervisor about the double standards, the retaliation began. The woman began to notice negative actions like the denial of overtime and the loss of some of her essential job duties. Then came disciplinary actions for things like tardiness. She was even suspended without pay. The negative actions piled up until a hostile work environment was created that made it impossible for her to handle being at work. Not only was her career affected, but the female employee was even forced to seek medical attention for the physical symptoms of severe stress.

The employee stood up one last time, this time it was for herself. She filed a complaint and had her day in district court, holding her employer responsible for the retaliation.

Source: Human Resources Journal, “Woman Claims Retaliation for Opposing Discrimination Against Another Employee,” April 27, 2012