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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HR Law 101: In 2007, the EEOC introduced E-RACE, an initiative for “Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment.” The initiative’s goal: to eliminate recruiting and hiring practices that lead to discrimination by limiting an employer’s applicant pool. The EEOC noted that the makeup of an employer’s workforce is “highly dependent on how and where the employer looks for candidates.”

Here’s a warning about general grooming standards and disciplining employees over their hairstyle choices: Make sure you apply the same standards to all employees and don’t end up forbidding members of a particular protected class to wear hairstyles that are OK for other workers.

Employers confronted with sexual harassment claims generally do one of two things: either ignore the problem and hope it goes away or face it head on. Ignoring it is, of course, the wrong decision.

Some employees aren’t very reliable. They call in sick with the slightest excuses—some­­times, right before you are about to discipline them for absenteeism. But what if your employee claims she had a medical emergency and that she has a doctor’s excuse?

Text messages make communication easy and convenient, but casual comments dashed off electronically may come back to haunt you. That’s why you should remind employees that texts should be composed with the same careful deliberation as letters and memos.

Employers aren’t required to prevent all harassment—just to stop it when it happens and take reasonable preventive steps. Two of those: Providing anti-harassment training to every employee and tracking who gets that training.
Unless it’s obvious that an em­­ployer acted maliciously by purposely setting out to harm an employee, chances are it won’t be held responsible for the consequences of a co-worker’s crime.
When it comes to the use of racial or other patently offensive slurs, it makes a difference who does the talking and how often. Courts don’t tolerate slurs when a supervisor is responsible, but cut employers more slack when it’s a co-worker speaking.
Employees who testify in an internal investigation, an agency in­­vestigation or in court are protected from retaliation whether or not they belong to the same protected classification as the employee whose case their testimony supports.
The current owners of Angelo’s Pizza in Rouse’s Point on Lake Cham­­plain will pay $35,000 to seven former female employees to settle sexual har­­assment charges dating back to the time of its previous owners.
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