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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Chris Kluwe punted for the Minnesota Vikings for eight seasons before being cut last May. Since then, despite several tryouts with other teams, he has not been able to find work in the National Football League. Kluwe thinks he knows why: his outspoken advocacy for marriage equality.
Don’t let biased notions of who can marry whom poison your workplace.

Just because an employee is doing a lousy job doesn’t mean she isn’t also being sexually harassed. Ignoring her complaints and focusing strictly on her performance may backfire if you terminate her. A jury may decide that harassment affected her performance or that, even if you fired her for legitimate reasons, she deserves compensation for the har­­ass­­ment she endured.

Sometimes, employees lose their tempers. That’s unfortunate and you certainly should discourage it. But a loud or tumultuous argument between a supervisor and a subordinate isn’t necessarily grounds for a harassment lawsuit.
Cargill Meat Solutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc., has settled race and sex discrimination charges with the federal government. The DOL’s Office of Fed­­eral Contract Compliance Pro­­grams investigated the firm’s hiring practices at facilities in Spring­­dale, Ark., Fort Morgan, Colo., and Beards­­town, Ill., between 2005 and 2009.
The Founders Pavilion nursing home in Corning will pay $370,000 to settle charges it violated the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and the ADA. The problem: The facility asked job applicants about their family medical histories during post-offer, pre-employment physical examinations.

In 2007, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs selected Frito-Lay for an audit by issuing a scheduling letter. Two years later, the agency re­­quested hiring data for January 2008 to October 2009 claiming it had found a “statistically significant” difference in its hiring rate for women at its Dallas facility. Frito-Lay refused, claiming the scheduling letter did not authorize the new data’s release.

Minnesota workers injured on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and can’t be punished for asking for or receiving those benefits. Remind supervisors and ­managers that it’s their job to manage the work­­force despite injuries and that threatening or actually punishing workers who apply for benefits is illegal.

The current workforce consists of four generations with unique strengths, values, expectations and, perhaps, limitations. Used poorly, generation-specific employment practices could create legal liabilities.

Employers with locations in multiple states that find themselves responding to an EEOC discrimination complaint sometimes fear the agency won’t limit its investigation to a single complaint or two. Instead, they worry the commission might conduct a wide-ranging investigation and sue over so-called “pattern-and-practices” discrimination, alleging companywide bias.

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