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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Do you have employees who were born and raised in other countries and who therefore speak English with heavy, foreign-sounding accents? If so, be careful how you approach any discussion about their speech. If supervisors or managers criticize workers’ accents, a national-origin discrimination lawsuit may be in your company’s future.

Some employees attribute perfectly reasonable actions to race dis­crimination just because the ­decision-maker happens to belong to a different protected class. Fortunately, courts usually quickly dismiss such cases.

Guardsmark Security will pay $25,000 to settle a national-origin and age-­harassment complaint filed by an employee working in San Jose.
Employers are supposed to provide reasonable accommodations that remove barriers to working for disabled workers. But those accommodations don’t have to include implementing changes that make a disabled employee’s commute easier.
Pennsylvanians filed 4,302 EEOC discrimination and retaliation complaints in fiscal year 2011—406 fewer than in 2010 but still up sharply from the 3,448 complaints filed in 2009.
North Carolina employees are doing more than their share to keep the EEOC busy, filing more discrimination complaints per capita than the national average. Even so, North Carolina filings fell last year after spiking upward in 2010.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has taken on medical marijuana and the ADA, concluding that individuals who use marijuana, even if doing so legally under state law, aren’t ­protected from discrimination under the ADA. That means disciplining employees for using medical marijuana won’t violate the ADA.
In April, the EEOC issued a new Enforcement Guidance document on the use of criminal history information in making hiring and other employment decisions. In light of the guidance and the EEOC’s increased focus on discrimination in hiring, employers should review and update their criminal history screening policies and practices.

Do you ask applicants what year they graduated from high school or college (or otherwise finished their education)? Does your application re­­quest that information? Watch out!

The DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy commissioned a study to explore barriers to employing the disabled and guidance for employers in hiring and managing disabled em­­ployees. The study urges employers to follow these strategies to avoid age discrimination complaints:
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