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.

In a recent case, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to extend protected status to an investigator who wanted her company to go further than it was willing to after it discovered sexual harassment.
Hobson Air Con­­di­­tion­­ing, a Weatherford contractor, has agreed to pay $37,500 to settle charges that a manager created a sexually hostile work environment.
Sometimes, all it takes to stop sexual harassment (or behavior that could escalate to harassment) is to tell the individual to cut it out. But you’ll never know if it worked unless you follow up. You should periodically check back with those affected and note their response in your files.

Sexual harassment victims deserve to have their claims investigated, not ignored. Under no circumstances should you encourage a complaining employee to quit instead of having to endure continued harassment. That’s a sure indication to many juries that the worker was punished for reporting sexual harassment.

If you pay women and men different rates for the doing the same work, you had better have a good reason—one that can stand up in court. Otherwise, you’ll probably wind up on the losing end of an Equal Pay Act (EPA) lawsuit.

Bipartisan legislation working its way through the U.S. Senate would make it easier for employees to prove age and disability discrimination. The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act seeks to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Gross v. F.B.I. Financial Services.

A federal jury in Sacramento unanimously awarded $168 million in damages and lost wages to a physician assistant for various claims lodged against her former employer, Catholic Healthcare West (CHW).
While Title VII prohibits discrimination based on any race or either gender, minorities and women aren’t the only ones protected by the law. So-called “reverse” discrimination claims are rarer, but they do exist. Important: Managers must not ignore or make light of complaints by white, male employees because of the following misguided beliefs.
A few years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court said employers fighting claims of age discrimination carry the burden of proof to show that their alleged discriminatory decisions were actually based on a “reasonable factor other than age (RFOA),” not discrimination. The EEOC has issued final regulations that clarify RFOAs.
Here’s a good rule of thumb when disciplining employees: Consider it a given that if discipline leads to termination, the entire disciplinary decision-making process will be challenged in court. That’s why you must carefully document every disciplinary action, starting with warnings.