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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Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have laws protecting the unemployed from discrimination. The EEOC has investigated bias against the unemployed and warns employers they could face disparate-impact discrimination lawsuits if screening out the unemployed hurts women and minorities more than other groups.
PBM Graphics, a Research Triangle printing firm, has agreed to settle a national-origin EEOC discrimination claim filed by temporary workers who claim the firm unfairly favored His­­panic temps over non-Hispanics.
When an employee complains about sexual harassment and suddenly finds herself under scrutiny—and sees her schedule changed—she may have a retaliation case.

Employees asking for ADA disability accommodations often end up providing very private details about their health. Carefully guard that information so only those who have a real need to know about it are privy to the employee’s condition. That means you should establish a strict protocol for distributing health-related information.

Altec Industries has agreed to pay a job applicant $25,000 after it refused to hire the Seventh-Day Adventist to work at its Burnsville, N.C., facility. The applicant alleged that when he revealed that his religion forbade him to work from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, the company refused to hire him.
Here’s a timely reminder that you should carefully document disciplinary actions and make sure there is no unintentional discrimination. The key is to thoroughly consider the appropriate punishment for each transgression, taking into account all the details.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has sensibly ruled that the existence of rival professional groups can’t be used to prove that workplace discrimination exists. Had the decision gone the other way, public employers likely would have seen a proliferation of special-interest employee associations.
A Safelite AutoGlass franchise in Enfield, N.C., has agreed to settle an EEOC sexual harassment and retaliation suit filed by a former HR assistant who claimed the HR manager made unwanted sexual comments and touched her inappropriately.
No one wants to have to explain why an employee just lost her job. But passing the buck and coming up with inconsistent excuses are the worst possible approaches. Instead, make sure the information comes from one source—preferably HR—and stick with a defensible reason.

If your workplace isn’t exactly the picture of diversity, the need to fire your only minority employee may worry you. Isn’t that just courting a lawsuit? Maybe—but that’s no reason to retain a poor performer.