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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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.
There is a fine line between a rational discussion of cultural differences and stereotyping. If you are tempted to educate employees on appropriate workplace behavior, stick with a straightforward description of what behaviors you want to see, not how they differ from other cultural norms.
Worried that a supervisor’s isolated, ill-advised comment about a subordinate’s cooperation in a discrimination case will mean an automatic win if the employee sues for retaliation? It’s not a sure thing.
You simply never know which employee will sue for discrimination. Your best defense is to consistently treat all employees equally. Make all your workers follow all your workplace rules all the time.
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