The Society for Human Resource Management has responded to a recent discrimination and retaliation suit, arguing Aug. 29 that the former employee was fired for lackluster performance — not her race.
The plaintiff in Mohamed v. Society for Human Resource Management alleged her White supervisor consistently favored her White peers over herself, a “brown-skinned Egyptian Arab woman,” and her fellow non-White colleague, a Black person. Prior to working under this supervisor, from 2016 to 2020, the suit said the plaintiff “consistently earned glowing performance reviews and promotions for her quality work and dedication to SHRM’s stated mission.”
Empowered by the anti-racism conversations following the police murder of George Floyd in May 2020, the plaintiff spoke up about race and color discrimination and retaliation — to her supervisor’s managers, to SHRM CHRO Sean Sullivan and SHRM CEO Johnny C. Taylor — “over a dozen times throughout the summer of 2020,” the suit said. She was fired Sept. 1, 2020.
In its response to the claims, SHRM acknowledged that the plaintiff received positive feedback, but also said she received counseling regarding “deficiencies in other areas of her work performance in the timeframe leading up to her termination.” Additionally, SHRM framed the issue as one of interpersonal conflict, pointing to SHRM leadership’s suggestion that the plaintiff and her supervisor engage in mediation sessions to resolve the issue. The facilitator met with the women separately and together; SHRM’s statement highlights that “the plaintiff withdrew from the mediation sessions.”
SHRM asked the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s case.