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 big reason to ban supervisor/subordinate relationships: When those affairs end, trouble for employers often begins. The subordinate, who may have been a willing participant, may now claim she was being sexually harassed. Or the supervisor may punish the subordinate for cutting off the relationship. Either way, there’s probably a lawsuit coming.

Sometimes, after an employee has been discharged, a supervisor will discover that the employee broke additional rules. But even if what you discover would be enough to have justified discharge on its own, chances are a court won’t let you use the information in your defense. After-acquired evidence isn’t admissible to show you would have fired the employee for reasons other than the one you used.

Hostility isn’t the same as discrimination. Proving it requires an affected employee to show both subjectively and objectively that she endured ridicule or worse—not just that her supervisor was unfair or even discriminated.
Supervisors sometimes enforce rules in a biased way or discipline members of a protected class more severely than others. But HR can stop this discrimination dead in its tracks with an internal informal audit. Regular monitoring (and fixing any problems you find) may be the best lawsuit-prevention tool around.
A federal jury has awarded $1.35 million to a police lieutenant in the Long Island town of Freeport after finding that the town’s black mayor turned him down for a promotion to chief of police because he is white. A Hispanic fire department official got the job.
Houston employers have a new local anti-discrimination ordinance to comply with. In addition to the classes protected by federal and state law, Houston now protects employees from discrimination based on familial status, marital status, gender identity and sexual orientation.
A black man who runs two Tiffany & Co. stores in Texas is suing the luxury retailer in New York, alleging that the company engages in “systemic, nationwide pattern and practice of racial discrimination.”

When you fire a difficult em­­ployee, there’s a good chance he or she will remain a thorn in your side. Always aim to document the incident that prompted the firing by gathering as many eyewitness accounts as possible.

If there is one thing that will get a federal judge’s attention, it’s name-calling that targets a particular race or ethnicity. While one comment may not be enough for a lawsuit, repeated name-calling almost certainly demonstrates hostility. That’s especially true if a supervisor makes the comments.
According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, which tracks gay-rights issues in the workplace, more than a fifth of U.S. workers will be covered by the Department of Labor’s August announcement that it will interpret prohibitions on sex discrimination in a recent Obama administration executive order to include discrimination based on gender identity and transgender status.
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