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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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Women’s clothing retailer Wet Seal has agreed to settle a class-action race discrimination suit for $7.5 million. Out of those funds, $5.58 million will go to compensate 1,600 current and former black managers for lost pay and promotions, termination and emotional distress.
The office is no place to discuss gender roles or women’s presence in the workplace. Be sure to warn supervisors against such talk, even in private.
Here’s a reminder to make sure supervisors stay clear of language or commentary that could be viewed as racist.
Don’t assume that just because a manager is in charge of subordinates and champions their discrimination complaints as part of her job, she isn’t engaged in protected activity. It probably is, and any action you take against her can be the basis for a retaliation lawsuit.
Here’s an important warning for employers that end discrimination or harassment lawsuits with settlement agreements that include a confidentiality clause: Keep those terms confidential and accessible only to those who absolutely need to know. Otherwise, you could wind up facing a retaliation lawsuit if word of the settlement leaks out ...
Here’s a case that shows how dangerous it can be to have a sexual harasser on board—especially if he is a manager.
The Minnesota Supreme Court has issued a ruling that ­clarifies what employees have to show in order to win a sexual harassment case under the MHRA. It concluded that employees who work in a sexually hostile work environment don’t have to lose pay or benefits to win a case. Nor is it a defense that the harasser was an equal opportunity harasser who targeted both men and women.
A San Francisco jury has awarded $2,729,037 to five former employees of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who alleged wrongful termination and breach of their employment contracts.
While management should strive for as cordial a workplace as practically possible, don’t worry if yours sometimes falls short. Don’t take complaints about petty slights and behaviors too seriously if you are sure there isn’t more below the ­surface.
Remind supervisors that treating employees (or applicants) less favorably because they have caregiving responsibilities can quickly trigger a lawsuit—and that’s more true now than ever. Your management training sessions should include in­­for­­mation on the FMLA, ADA and other laws that affect the issue.
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