A CEO, an HR manager and an attorney walk into a bar ....
If any joke in the workplace makes you think, "lawsuit!", you aren't alone. The laws requiring you to protect employees from illegal discrimination are deadly serious. They also are vague.
The federal Civil Rights Act, which applies to employers with 15 or more workers, prohibits job bias based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. But state and local statutes often go further, meaning that comments or actions that are OK in one place are illegal somewhere else.
Unfortunately, the courts have yetto provide concrete guidance on what talk or actions are "severe and pervasive enough" to create a hostile work environment.
Hostile or hooey?
Consider these examples from Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who has written on harassment law:
- A New York judge said gender-based job titles such as "foreman" and "draftsman" are discriminatory ...(register to read more)
- Act fast to stop racial comments (but don't fear lawsuit if they're isolated)
- Track training opportunities, participation to show you don't discriminate
- When discipline is called for, keep personal hostility from tainting process
- When a fellow manager's rudeness disrupts your team
- Same job titles don't demand the same pay