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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A federal judge has ordered the Houston-based United Bible Fellowship Ministries to pay a former employee nearly $75,000 in back pay and damages because of the nonprofit’s policy prohibiting pregnant employees from working and barring the hiring of pregnant women.

Time was when an employer’s only preoccupation with restrooms was whether the cleaning crew was keeping them stocked with soap, towels and toilet paper. Enter the new reality: Federal agencies and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights groups are contending that transgender employees should be given the right to choose between restrooms having an “M” or a “W” on the door.

Federal employees have a much shorter time frame than other employees in which to complain about discrimination. In fact, they must go to their equal employment opportunity (EEO) officer within just 45 days of the alleged discrimination. But that time limit doesn’t apply if the employee has no way of knowing she was the victim of it.
Not every action that may be interpreted as harassment actually is. That doesn’t mean employers should ignore a one-time incident or behavior brought to HR’s attention. You can and should end any behavior that may be perceived as offensive or harassing. Once you have, you can move on, as this recent Texas Supreme Court decision shows.

Some employees will never get along. Managing them can be hard, especially if one chooses to make life difficult for the other with practical jokes and rude behavior. But unless the jokes and behavior somehow relates to a protected characteristic, it isn’t grounds for a lawsuit.

The Kung Fu Saloon chain, with locations in Austin, Dallas and Houston, has agreed to settle U.S. Department of Justice charges that it has repeatedly refused service to Asian and black customers.
When the high school football coach at St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School in Vallejo, California learned that some of his players were hazing underclassmen, he reported it to his superiors. The high school investigated and expelled five students. It also fired the coach who reported the hazing. He sued the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento for retaliation.
OSHA's role is expansive and includes regulating everything from heat breaks to bathroom access. It issued “A Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers” on June 1.
Interviews are often critical for sorting through many apparently qualified job applicants, and it’s critical to properly handle the interview process. Be sure you treat candidates equally, asking the same interview questions of everyone.
In the wake of U.S. Supreme Court’s important Young v. UPS ruling in March, the EEOC has updated its employer guidelines on light-duty assignments and disparate treatment of pregnant workers. Download them now.
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