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.

If a supervisor believes an employee has such a negative attitude that it warrants firing, do your HR duty! Immediately ask for documentation of the problem. It can’t wait until after the termination occurs. After-the-fact, subjective assessments may not survive a court challenge.

You never know which employee will file a discrimination lawsuit. These surprise lawsuits often allege that the employer disciplined ­others outside the employee’s protected class less severely for the same transgression. Protect your organization by providing detailed reasons for any discipline at the time it occurs.

Make this a mantra in your organization: The same person who hired an employee should be the one to fire him if necessary. Here’s why:

Warn bosses: Threatening someone with discipline may be retaliation.
A group of seven San Francisco janitors will split $180,000 to settle an EEOC lawsuit that alleged ABM Industries discriminated against His­­panic employees and retaliated against those who filed discrimination complaints with the EEOC.
Here’s some good news for employers that work hard to prevent sexual harassment. Employees who wait decades to report harassment won’t get far if their employer had an effective harassment policy and enforced it.
Many employers wrongly assume that they can automatically terminate an employee once she used up her 12-week entitlement of FMLA leave. Such a policy could spell trouble.

Looks like the National Basketball Association will make up for time lost to the lockout by playing on both the basketball and legal courts for the next few months. A former NBA security official claims his firing last summer was retaliation for reporting sexual harassment incidents.

Employers that don’t have a squeaky-clean, sex- and innuendo-free workplace may end up spending big bucks defending against sexual harassment charges. That means you need an aggressive program that bans all forms of sexual behavior and banter at work.

If two employees break the same workplace rule, they should receive the same punishment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t distinguish between degrees of culpability. It’s perfectly fine to terminate an employee who has a long history of rule breaking and retain another because it’s a first offense.