In the ideal world, it would be easy for HR pros to prevent harassment: We’d just tell employees to treat each other with respect. And they’d do it, right?
We don’t live in an ideal world. Throw in issues of race, and the picture often looks decidedly imperfect. In diverse workforces, prejudice (or misunderstanding) can simmer … until it boils over.
Employers have an obligation to try to prevent harassment when it erupts. But courts often give an “A” for effort. They won’t measure your efforts solely by whether your prevention strategy worked.
As long as an employer takes reasonable steps, it won’t be liable for preventing co-worker harassment as long as that harassment is dealt with once it occurs.
Recent case: Jeneka Peace-Wickham, who is black, took a job as a café supervisor, replacing a white employee who had allegedly been fired for engaging in a work stoppage. Peace-Wickham later came to believe the firing igni...(register to read more)
- Don't punish employees for their off-site political activity
- Hold onto those notes! Even accidental destruction can mean trouble
- Be sure to document if worker says she doesn't need leave
- Watch out when firing for breaking unwritten rule
- Watch out for overt harassment, but don't sweat isolated--possibly misinterpreted--comments