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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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Recent, highly publicized sexual abuse scandals have shown that hiding the problem by simply transferring abusers often doesn’t work. The same is true for supervisors with a penchant for sexual harassment. Problems often crop up again, despite a “fresh start.”

Q. We recently hired an experienced salesperson. Dur­­ing her orientation, she told HR that she recently underwent a sex change procedure and that she is transgender. A few days later, another employee went to HR and explained that he had known the salesperson in a previous job before her sex change. This employee is clearly uncomfortable and asked for advice on what he can say to the new employee and others on the team about their former working relationship?
Ten states accounted for 46.5% of all EEOC charges filed in fiscal year 2012, led by Texas at 9%.
In a win for common sense, the Court of Appeals of Minnesota has reversed an unemployment compensation award to a supervisor who used obscenities at work and then drunk-dialed a subordinate more than once.
The Genetic Information Non­­dis­­crimi­­na­­tion Act, enacted in 2008, prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their genetic information. The EEOC has filed its first two GINA class actions against employers that allegedly collected and used genetic information in hiring and firing decisions.
Former employees who are un­­documented or illegal immigrants and claim they have been discriminated against based on their country of origin can sue, even if the em­­­­ployees they are comparing themselves to are also undocumented.
Here’s a twist in discrimination law that you might never consider. If a co-worker rivalry for an open position includes threats by one worker to quit if the other is promoted and the rivalry is based on sex bias, you may face a lawsuit if you accede to the threat. That’s what happened in one recent case that made its way to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Supervisors can and should be held to a higher standard when it comes to enforcing workplace rules. That includes punishing a supervisor who harasses a subordinate more harshly than a co-worker who harasses a colleague.
If you plan to offer an employee age 40 or older a severance payment in exchange for promising not to sue, don’t forget to include Age Dis­­crimi­­na­­tion in Employment Act review-and-consult language in the agreement. The ADEA has very specific requirements for allowing the employee to show severance agreements to an attorney before signing.
A bill to provide protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual em­­ployees has picked up some surprising support in the General Assembly. The bill, which was introduced with 102 co-sponsors, would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations.
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