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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Employers can be liable under the ADA if they “regard” someone as disabled—that is, assuming and acting as if the person has a disability. That’s true whether the worker is disabled or not. Telling an employee she should pick up medical forms to apply for disability benefits and sending her home until she does apply probably means the employer regarded the employee as disabled.

It’s hard to convince a judge or jury that the same person who hired someone knowing his protected status would later turn around and fire that employee because of that very protected status. That’s one reason you should keep careful track of which manager recommended hiring someone who is obviously a member of a protected class—such as an employee who is disabled because of a missing limb.

A jury in New York City has awarded a  woman $18 million in her sexual harassment lawsuit against her former Wall Street boss.

Rest easy: You can talk about an employee’s pregnancy while also discussing discipline against her. As long as you make it clear that you are disciplining the employee because of issues that have nothing to do with her pending childbirth, mentioning pregnancy while discussing potential penalties won’t make you lose a discrimination suit.

The federal appeals court that covers Texas has come down on the side of an employer that fired a worker for insubordination for refusing to say a rosary. Reason: The employee never revealed that her religion prevented her from complying.
A manager at a Schenectady, N.Y. Subway franchise allegedly demanded sex from teenage applicants in exchange for jobs at the sandwich chain. Two underage girls reported the manager to the EEOC after he sent them explicit texts suggesting that they would be hired if they had sex with him.

It doesn’t take much for an employee who has been terminated to take a discrimination claim to court. For example, all a woman has to allege is that she is a member of a protected class (female), was qualified for her job, was discharged and was replaced by someone who is not a member of her protected class—that is, that a man replaced her. It’s then up to the employer to prove it had a legitimate, unrelated reason for the termination. It can’t rely strictly on her status as at-will.

A Muslim applicant for a driver helper position with UPS in Rochester, N.Y. is one of the lead plaintiffs in a class-action suit against the delivery service. The EEOC is suing on behalf of several men of various religions who have either allegedly been forced to shave to obtain a UPS job or been denied employment because of their religious beliefs.
Sometimes, it’s relatively easy to get a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit dismissed. If your workplace records can show that other employees became pregnant, took leave and never complained about any sort of pregnancy-related discrimination, that can serve as a powerful rebuttal to a lone complaint.
Generally, older employees who are turned down for promotions or aren’t hired must show that the person who was hired was younger. But how much younger? That question has now been answered by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.