Karen is My Name

California Law Firm Warns of Dangers of the “Karen” Meme

The law firm Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, a California firm specializing in employment and labor relations issues, has put up a post addressing the possible legal exposure for companies that allow the “Karen meme” (jokes, insults, etc.) in the workplace. Their analysis, posted on the California Public Agency Labor & Employment Blog, does not mention women specifically named Karen, but points out various ways that the “Karen meme” could figure into employee claims of harassment and discrimination based on age, sex, race and other factors.

In particular, the post points out that

‘the Karen meme’ could pose significant issues pertaining to retaliation.  Specifically, a hallmark of the titular ‘Karen’ character is her tendency to ask to ‘speak to the manager’ to air her frivolous complaints.  Consequently, if ‘the Karen meme’ finds its way into the workplace, an employee who voiced a complaint to superiors or Human Resources could perceive the meme as attacking his or her credibility and dismissing the seriousness of their concern.  If that employee is, for example, subsequently not promoted, the use of ‘the Karen meme’ in the office would certainly play a part in his or her subsequent retaliation action.

The piece provides information that could be helpful for anyone trying to get or keep “the Karen meme” out of their workplace. An employer would be unwise to dismiss concerns about the meme. As the post makes clear, there are many ways in which employees who felt that they were being targeted, including men and women with names other than Karen, could cite “the Karen meme” in a harassment or discrimination lawsuit.

Read the entire piece here.


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