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.
Q. One of the owners suggested that paid time off for employees should not be a set benefit, but a bonus. Can we just award paid time off as a bonus to some employees and not to others?
The EEOC has been pushing the idea that using credit reports to screen job applicants may discriminate on the basis of race—and it’s actively pursuing cases in federal court. But now an Ohio federal court has limited the scope of a class-action lawsuit after the EEOC wanted to include many years of hiring history.
Sometimes, HR professionals have to make judgment calls about who is telling the truth. In fact, just about every workplace investigation requires assessing the credibility of employees, co-workers and managers who disagree about what happened. Take, for example, an employee who complains about a supervisor’s harassment or hostility.
There's no sense in becoming a pack rat if you don't need to. While the legal requirements to retain records are complex, you're probably safe in dumping those 1984 vacation-day requests. Still, knowing which records to save or toss can be critical to your business, particularly in defending against a lawsuit.
HR professionals or managers should always discuss performance or behavior problems with employees before disciplining them. After all, employees often admit their mistakes when confronted directly. And any admissions can be used later to support your disciplinary decision if the employee claims discrimination.
Employers have an obligation to stop illegal harassment as quickly as possible. But don’t jump right on the first apparent solution—it may not be the best way to go. If your proposed fix actually makes things worse for the victim—in terms of pay, perks or working conditions—you’ll raise your liability risks to the roof.
Résumés with common names are more likely to receive callbacks than those with Russian and African-American names, according to a study in the Journal of Managerial Psychology. Evaluating candidates based on name could trigger claims of race bias or national-origin discrimination.
Friction often exists between HR and supervisors because those front-line bosses don’t fully understand your HR role … and they may hold certain stereotypes about your department. Advice: Set the stage for HR-management collaboration with an “HR for managers” meeting. Explain how key HR functions practically benefit managers and their departments.
The EEOC received a record 99,922 charges in the 2010 fiscal year—the most the agency has received in its 45-year history. Given this sharp increase in charge activity, now is a good time to review your personnel policies and practices to make sure you’re taking appropriate steps to help prevent potential discrimination claims.
Q. We send out a condolence card when one of our employees has a death in the family. We usually say something like, “Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time.” Now one of our employees has complained about the use of the word “prayer.” Do we need to change the message?