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.

Miami’s Piloto Photo Center faces sexual harassment charges after female employees alleged the owner subjected them to graphic sexual comments and demeaning name-calling. Two former employees, including one manager, claim they were fired for opposing the harassment.
Some employees act as their own lawyers, something that can put employers at a disadvantage. That’s because courts bend over backward to make sure an unrepresented litigant gets his day in court.
Does your computer system allow employees to write notes about customers? Do your employees think the customers will never see those notes? That’s a recipe for a disaster, as a California restaurant found out.
Employers can minimize retaliation complaints by having fair policies and procedures governing employee discipline. Even in cases of egregious behavior, a suspension while the employer sorts out the facts may be the best approach. Supervisor training is key to stemming national origin, disability and religious discrimination complaints.
Q. We have an annual off-site company party, with alcohol. We pay for half the hotel room cost if people want to stay over. An alleged harassment event occurred in a hotel room around 2 a.m. What is our potential liability? And do we have to investigate the complaint ... ?

Some employees are simply difficult to manage. They start arguments and may see harassment or discrimination at every turn. Sometimes they cross a line, implying they could get violent. How you handle their complaints can spell the difference between winning and losing a lawsuit.

Q. We recently made a job offer to someone, rescinded the offer and then hired another applicant two months later. Is there anything illegal about that?

Courts don’t want to second-guess employers unless they feel they have no alternative. When an employee charges discrimination based on different treatment because he belongs to a protected class, the court first looks at the employer’s rules and tries to see if they have been enforced consistently.
Six Los Angeles-area soda company employees will share a whopping $17.7 million in damages awarded after they successfully sued the Dr Pepper Snapple Group and related companies for age discrimination.
Chances are, you have a sexual harassment policy that gives em­­ployees several ways to report har­­ass­­ment—maybe including a hotline for phoning in problems. But beware: An employee may file an EEOC complaint before you even have a chance to investigate alleged harassment. If that happens, your hotline records may play a crucial role in your defense.