Alexander Hamilton Institute

Workplace violence is a serious problem that all employers must be prepared to address. Issues include analyzing what incidents are likely to trigger violence in the workplace; whether workplace violence policies can apply to verbal threats; what to do in cases of actual fighting or physical violence; and even outside events like domestic violence situations.

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The Equal Pay Act amends the Fair Labor Standards Act to prohibit employers from paying male and female employees different wages for equal work in jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and are performed under similar conditions.

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Title VII prevents religious discrimination in the workplace. That means accommodating different religious beliefs, including those not tied to traditional religions. Religious discrimination lawsuits usually arise from conflicts over work schedules, dress codes for safety that bump up against religious practices, and First Amendment complaints.

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The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII to prohibit employers from treating pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions any differently than they treat employees with temporary disabilities. It forbids pregnancy discrimination in hiring, firing, wages, benefits, pay increases, seniority, promotions, demotions, transfers, leaves of absence and other terms of employment.

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National origin discrimination is prohibited under Title VII. It forbids bias based on physical, linguistic or cultural traits associated with a national origin group. Among the specific areas that often trigger employee lawsuits on national origin are English-only rules, ethnic jokes and slurs, and stereotyping.

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Every employer practice and policy must be put under the legal microscope to ferret out sex discrimination. Among the most common triggers for sexual discrimination charges are hiring interview questions, old boy network promotions, favoritism in assignments, gender stereotypes, and issues surrounding sexual orientation.

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Employers must create and enforce sexual harassment policies and conduct sexual harassment training so that supervisors can recognize what is and what isn’t considered to be sexual harassment. Supervisors are responsible for eliminating behavior that can lead to claims of a hostile environment in their departments.

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The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on their own or their family members’ genetic information. Employers cannot acquire or disclose genetic information, or use such information to make employment decisions.

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Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits employers from using an individual’s race, color, national origin, religion, or sex as a basis for decisions on hiring, discharging, compensation, benefits, classification, and all other terms and conditions of employment. It also forbids retaliation against employees or applicants who lodge complaints against unlawful employer acts covered by Title VII.

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Retaliation is prohibited under numerous state and federal laws. What must employers know to avoid accusations of retaliation?

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