One of my employee relations colleagues informed me that she can’t help it–she just sees all managers as walking lawsuits. I laughed along with her, but it’s really not funny. Managers do stupid things all the time–ask wrong questions in job interviews (Do you have children? You do? What are your childcare plans?) or promote people for the wrong reasons (hey, she’s hot!) or play favorites or tell racist jokes or any number of other things.
We, in HR, can’t even control ourselves, let alone our managers. We do try to train them in what can and cannot be said. Apparently, Virginia State University’s HR department fell behind on training their managers that you shouldn’t fire people for expressing opposing viewpoints and then replace them with your live-in-lover.
Cobbs and her supporters have said that she was dismissed for her political views (she is an outspoken black Republican at a historically black college where her views place her in a distinct minority) and for backing other professors (of a range of political views) in disputes with the Virginia State administration. In announcing the settlement of her case, the Virginia Association of Scholars — one of the groups backing Cobbs — said that information obtained by Cobbs’s lawyer showed that the university’s provost, W. Eric Thomas, replaced Cobbs with a woman with whom he is living.
Cost the university $600,000.