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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Here’s a case that shows how important it is to keep good records of the interview and hiring process. When a rejected applicant sued, an employer ended up having to call in former applicants to whom it had offered jobs but who had turned down the offers. The employer won the case on the strength of those other candidates’ testimony.
Some employees may be embarrassed when they experience sex­­ual harassment. They may feel too uncomfortable to come right out and repeat offensive comments they heard. What should HR do?

You may think you have a great training program that helps good employees acquire new skills and then promotes the best ones. But it takes just one rogue super­visor to sink the best training if you don’t have checks and balances to make sure it is being used appropriately.

As the workforce becomes more diverse, religious accommodation requests are becoming more common. In addressing such requests, employers should be mindful of the new in­­for­­mal guidance recently issued by the EEOC regarding religious accommodations involving dress or grooming.
You may have read that stray comments aren’t enough to create liability. That’s true. However, when those comments are “pervasive and regular,” it’s another matter. And the line between stray and regular is anything but clear.
In a long-anticipated move, President Obama on July 21 amended Executive Order 11246 to prohibit discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The DOL has until late October to develop regulations implementing the order.

When it comes ADA disability discrimination claims, employers have to think about litigation as soon as an employee self-identifies as disabled and brings up potential reasonable accommodations. If a supervisor or HR professional refuses to even consider accommodations, it all but guarantees that the case won’t be dismissed at the summary judgment stage, potentially leading to a jury trial.

Sometimes, a disabled employee simply cannot perform his or her job to the standards you legitimately expect. If you make reasonable accommodations and try to find a way for the employee to successfully perform the essential functions of the job, you have done all you are required to do. You can terminate the employee for poor performance.
Sometimes, poor appearances lead to lawsuits. That can certainly be the case when a reduction in force (RIF) seems to disproportionately affect a protected class of workers.

Under the ADA and state discrimination law, pregnant women may be entitled to accommodations at work. For example, if a pregnancy involves medical complications, an employee may be entitled to a reduced schedule, shift changes or temporary assignments to accommodate lifting restrictions. However, requests for changes that are only tangentially related to a pregnancy don’t have to be honored.

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