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.
Five Hispanic members of the Hoboken Police Department will split $2 million following settlement of a lawsuit that alleged a SWAT team lieutenant was an unabashed white supremacist who forced the officers to perform yard work at his house. The officers alleged that internal complaints weren’t investigated.
Marshall-based frozen food giant Schwan’s attempt to quash an EEOC subpoena was stopped cold when the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the company must hand over a list of 600 Schwan’s general managers, their genders and dates of hire. The EEOC demanded the documents in connection with a sex discrimination case filed by a former employee.
Disabled employees or those who need FMLA leave aren’t immune from following work rules. But think carefully before you punish them. It is possible to terminate an employee who has announced he needs time off or an accommodation. However, you must have a legitimate reason—and you must be able to demonstrate that the company acted in good faith.
Overly sensitive employees can be quick to perceive “discrimination.” They may look at others’ actions as hostile, based on past experiences elsewhere. But that doesn’t mean a court will agree and punish an employer that hasn’t discriminated. Reality: It takes more than a few slights to make a winning discrimination case.
It is generally agreed that anti-discrimination laws don’t create a general code requiring workplace civility. Harassment lawsuits won’t normally fly unless the abuse is objectively and subjectively severe or pervasive enough to alter the terms and conditions of one’s employment. A recent case, Williams v. CSX Transp. Co., illustrates these principles in action.
Fortunately for employers, courts measure a hostile work environment against the “reasonable employee” standard. If a reasonable employee would not find the conduct hostile, then it doesn’t matter how intensely a particular employee reacts to allegedly hostile acts. The idea behind the standard is to protect employers from exaggerated claims, especially when it is clear the employer took the allegations seriously and moved to prevent further problems.