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 state appeals court has upheld a jury verdict awarding damages to a group that included about a dozen city marshals and police officers who had previously worked for the city’s park and airport police departments. The group demonstrated in court that the city’s consolidation of these departments resulted in a pay disparity between officers over age 40 and younger officers.
Proving retaliation is often easier than proving the underlying discrimination that was the basis for the original complaint. Still, an ordinary employer action—such as preparing a performance review that’s generally favorable—isn’t retaliation, even if the employee thinks he deserved a better review and more praise.
The Pentagon has indicated it will give troop commanders some flexibility in allowing religious-based exceptions to the military’s appearance requirements. Most notably, Sikhs, Muslims and Jews will now have an avenue to receive permission to wear beards and religious headwear.
Some employees believe that once their employer agrees that they are disabled, they can demand a specific accommodation. But that’s not true. In fact, it is the employer that gets to pick a reasonable accommodation.

When people are thrown to­­gether in the workplace, per­­s­­onality conflicts are almost inevitable. But unless there’s seriously abusive behavior or particularly offensive language, an occasionally rude workplace won’t be labeled hostile by a court.

By now, you might think no manager would be so stupid as to openly state their reluctance to hire someone of a particular race. Believe it or not, it still happens. When it does, that’s when expensive and time-consuming litigation begins.
An employee who has lost his job may look at the resulting workforce and conclude that his race or other protected characteristic was why he was part of the reduction in force. Prepare for such potential charges with solid documentation showing you had a business reason for each position you cut—and that you didn’t consider who held the job.
Merely creating a hotline for reporting discrimination isn’t enough to protect an employer against harassment and discrimination claims.
Some employees joke around by calling other workers “old man” or making other insensitive ageist comments. You should certainly discourage comments that diminish employees, customers or others based on their protected characteristics. However, a few isolated incidents won’t mean a lost lawsuit if you also make sure that you terminate employees only for legitimate business reasons.
A snarky reply to an employee’s email—plus alleged retaliation—has landed a Manhattan firm in legal hot water.
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