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.

The key to preventing most har­­assment lawsuits lies in properly handling the situation when you first learn of a problem. A quick and effective response that stops the hostility right away is essential.

Courts hold white employees who allege racial discrimination to a slightly higher standard than members of other protected classes. The higher standard is met if the white employee can show that the decision-maker is a member of another protected class.

The state Department of Human Services failed to check educational and employment references for the director of the state’s largest mental hospital, according to a report by Minnesota Public Radio.
Here’s something to keep in mind if you’re contemplating a reduction in force: If you plan to offer severance packages in exchange for a liability release, make sure you aren’t too selective about who gets the best deals.

Here’s a tip that may prove in­­valuable if a former employee decides to sue over an alleged hostile work environment: Track and respond to every reported incident. That way, should a lawsuit later allege additional, more severe incidents, you are in a good position to argue they never happened.

You’ll rarely lose a termination-related lawsuit if your handbook contains clear rules that you follow consistently. That’s because when everyone who breaks the same rule is equitably disciplined, fired employees will have a hard time finding ­workers outside their protected class who were treated more favorably than they were.
Once in a while, promotions just don’t work out. Someone who was great at one job might bomb at another. That’s especially true if the new job involves different skills and talents. Don’t let past performance make you hesitate to discipline.

A Family Video store in Buffalo has agreed to settle a disability discrimination suit filed by a former employee who suffers from depression and social anxiety disorder. He claims store management har­assed him because of his condition and then fired him when he complained.

Some employees think all criticism equals harassment—the slightest insult triggers an angry response and a formal complaint. When that happens, investigate the claim. If there’s nothing to it, say so and move on. You may be sued, but chances are the case will quickly be dismissed.

It’s not just discrimination against workers that gets employers in trouble. Bias against customers can land them in hot water, too.