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 something to include in supervisory training sessions: Warn that negative comments about military service may put the employer on the defensive in the event the employee is terminated.
There are some jobs where the employee’s sex is a “bona fide occupational qualification”—but not many. For the vast majority of positions, employers can’t exclude people of one sex and only hire members of the opposite sex. After a recent appellate decision, it seems unlikely that one-sex hiring will survive legal scrutiny.
Remind supervisors and managers that they shouldn’t assign jobs or duties based on a worker’s gender. Nor should anyone in management make comments that could be interpreted as sexist or as assumptions that certain roles are best assigned to either men or women.
Here’s a tricky situation that requires courage: An employee complains that a senior executive may be sexually harassing a subordinate. The best approach may be to contact your employer’s attorney for advice.
For the most part, courts don’t want to second-guess employer discipline. As long as you have reasonable rules in place, let employees know what those rules are and en­­force them consistently, most judges will uphold your disciplinary decisions.
Sometimes, supervisors say stupid things. How you respond may mean the difference between winning or losing a lawsuit based on those comments.
A court has concluded that em­­ployees looking for promotions or transfers have to make reasonable efforts to apply for a job before they can sue. That’s true even if they were discouraged from applying—unless it was obvious that applying would be futile and therefore ­pointless.

Q. One of our employees claims that traffic gives her anxiety and wants to alter her work schedule to avoid driving during peak travel times. It wouldn’t be a big deal but we’re afraid that if we do it for her, we will start to receive similar claims from other workers who have similar commutes. Do we have to accommodate her?

Legislators are creating new protections for those who report vio­lations to regulatory agencies.
A midtown-Manhattan bar faces charges it forced waitresses to kiss one another and wrestle in cranberry sauce while patrons took pictures and videos.
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