Discrimination and Harassment

Discrimination and harassment claims often increase in a down economy. Learn the proper techniques for conducing proper workplace harassment investigations, providing sexual harassment training, and more to reduce claims of employment discrimination and preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.

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Don’t assume that every injury is a disability. Many times, injuries heal within a few weeks or months with proper treatment and don’t end up as disabilities protected by the ADA.
Some professions require applicants to prove a certain level of physical fitness. When employers demand passing a physical test as a qualification to be hired, they need to make sure that protected classes such as women don’t fail at rates that indicate the test has a disparate impact on otherwise qualified applicants.
If you take prompt, remedial action and then monitor the situation for possible continued harassment or retaliation, chances are that a one-time incident won’t mean losing a sexual harassment lawsuit. Of course, you still have to investigate every allegation, even if your first impression is that there wasn’t behavior serious enough to constitute sexual harassment.
If you don’t know an employee has engaged in so-called protected activity, you can’t be liable for retaliation. A recent case demonstrates this.
You’re risking trouble if you don’t have an anti-harassment and discrimination policy that allows employees to report discrimination and harassment.

Sure, judges expect employers to keep the work environment relatively free from harassment, at least when slurs and other bad behavior come from co-workers and supervisors. But a different, more lenient standard applies when the source is outside the company’s direct control.

Employers that create and implement clear, well-publicized policies for reporting sexual and other forms of harassment can defeat many co-worker harassment claims. The key is to come up with a specific process featuring more than one avenue through which employees can complain. Then let employees know it’s there for their use.

In order to claim that a transfer or a realignment of duties qualifies as an adverse employment action, employees must show that the transfer or job changes were somehow potentially harmful. That’s especially true in the case of job changes that spring from a lateral move across the organization chart, with the same pay and benefits.

Federal law protects applicants who belong to the military reserves from discrimination based on their service, and considering their military obligations when making hiring decisions is illegal. If anyone involved in hiring ex­­presses reluctance to hire a candidate because of his or her service, expect legal trouble. Make absolutely sure you had valid reasons for picking other candidates.

Sometimes, employees hold back on reporting sexual harassment out of fear, especially if the perpetrator is a supervisor. The first you hear about it may be during the termination meeting. If that happens, suspend the employee instead of firing him. That will give you time to investigate.

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