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.

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Ongoing employment discrimination litigation between the University of Minnesota and a former golf coach is now focused on a cellphone. Former women’s associate golf instructor Kathryn Brenny sued the university, claiming that golf director John Harris stripped her of her duties once he discovered she is a lesbian.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to reinstate a hostile work environment case involving the display of the Georgia state flag in the South­ampton Union Free School District.
A former employee of the Lumbee Indian Tribe is suing the tribe, alleging her former boss sexually assaulted her and subjected her to severe sexual harassment.
Gaylord Inc. of Wadesboro will pay $55,000 to settle a former em­­ployee’s religious discrimination lawsuit against the orthopedic and sports medicine products manufacturing company.
For the third year in a row, retaliation is the No. 1 type of job discrimination claim filed with the EEOC. Employees submitted 37,836 retaliation claims in 2012. That’s only a small increase from 2011, but up more than 100% since 1998.
As an HR professional, you’re probably used to mediating what seem like silly disputes between co-workers. If neither employee mentions race, chances are a simple personality conflict is at the heart of the matter. Leave it at that—with a note for the record.

Usually, courts considering whether an employee worked in a hostile environment look at a period of weeks, months or years to assess whether the alleged har­assment was severe and pervasive enough to become truly hostile. But sometimes just a few days will do the trick.

Employees have a limited window in which to file discrimination complaints and related lawsuits. Miss the deadline and the case is over. That’s why it’s important to document all employment decisions—even trivial ones—with a note and a date for the record.

Say an applicant tells you she wouldn’t be able to work Friday nights due to her religion. Or an employee begins wearing a headscarf to the office. How would you respond? The increasing religious diversity in the workforce is causing more managers to make legal mistakes.

Not every romance ends happily ever after with a storybook wedding. But with the passage of time, most breakups don’t leave a lingering mess. That’s not necessarily true of workplace romances gone sour, where the former love birds may remain in regular contact with each other.
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