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.

Here’s some comfort if you discover a supervisor has made unwise comments to employees: Ambiguous statements probably aren’t enough to form the basis of a hostile work environment claim.
When it comes to litigation, who said what is often the crux of the matter. That’s why it’s important to have a witness during any meeting involving bias complaints.
Sometimes, a single poorly chosen phrase can generate large legal bills, as the following case shows.
Ignoring an employee’s persistent complaints that she’s being paid less than her male counterparts may amount to a willful violation of the Equal Pay Act (EPA). And willful violations add a year onto the two years of back-pay liability.
Ignoring a discrimination complaint can set in motion an un­­stop­­pable litigation train wreck. That’s especially true if you fail to in­­vestigate a boss who ends up retaliating against the complaining employee.
Do you have one of those em­­ployees who are never happy and always seem to find something to complain about? It may be tempting to ignore the constant complaining or chalk it all up to personality conflicts, but that would probably be a mistake. Carefully document the tension and your response.
Sometimes an employee may feel uncomfortable with the close proximity and may even interpret another employee’s innocent behavior as sexual harassment. While you must respond to every sexual harassment complaint and investigate, that doesn’t mean each incident warrants corrective action. Use common sense.
Good news for employers fighting off discrimination claims: Courts are losing patience with lawsuits based on little more than the argument that “it must have been discrimination.”
The federal Equal Pay Act (EPA) is supposed to ensure that men and women doing the same job aren’t paid differently based on their sex. But employees can’t win EPA lawsuits simply by comparing their rates of pay and job titles. Lots of factors unrelated to gender may in­­fluence pay.
Former government employee Shari Hutchison has settled her discrimination complaint against Cuyahoga County for $100,000 after winning a landmark decision for gay and lesbian workers.