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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Generally, employees can’t sue their employers because of a personality conflict with a supervisor. Nor can they allege that it’s a form of retaliation for a disliked supervisor to show up in court in order to “torment” the employee.
The EEOC, for the first time on the federal level, has ruled that discriminating against an employee based on sexual orientation counts as unlawful sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
If an employee complains about harassment, take the complaint seriously, even if the harasser is a customer. Ban the customer to make sure the harassment stops—and call the police if the harassment involves touching or invasion of privacy.
Q. Does the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriages have any effect on us with regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act?
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.
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