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.
Former CBS News entertainment reporter Ken Lombardi claims two male bosses groped him and made unwanted advances, and a female boss refused to investigate his charges. According to lawsuit documents, Lombardi claims that Duane Tollison, then a senior producer, drunkenly groped him and kissed him on the neck at a holiday party.
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 are sensitive to various chemicals such as perfumes and other strong smells. Accommodating the problem can be difficult, but it’s necessary if the condition rises to the level of a disability.
Some public employees in civil service positions may challenge their discharge through the civil service system. But doing so does have its dangers.
Employers that provide clear rules on what employees must do before being considered for promotions can reduce the possibility of failure-to-promote lawsuits. That’s because employees who don’t follow those clear rules can’t argue they weren’t promoted on account of their membership in a protected class. They lost out because they didn’t follow the rules.
A white news anchor at the Fox29 television station in Philadelphia has lost a long-simmering reverse discrimination lawsuit that began in 2007 when he was fired for using the N-word during a production meeting called to discuss a news story on the use of the racial slur in society.
Don’t assume that every injury is a disability. Many times, injuries heal within a few weeks or months with proper treatment and don’t end up as disabilities protected by the ADA.
Some professions require applicants to prove a certain level of physical fitness. When employers demand passing a physical test as a qualification to be hired, they need to make sure that protected classes such as women don’t fail at rates that indicate the test has a disparate impact on otherwise qualified applicants.
If you take prompt, remedial action and then monitor the situation for possible continued harassment or retaliation, chances are that a one-time incident won’t mean losing a sexual harassment lawsuit. Of course, you still have to investigate every allegation, even if your first impression is that there wasn’t behavior serious enough to constitute sexual harassment.
If you don’t know an employee has engaged in so-called protected activity, you can’t be liable for retaliation. A recent case demonstrates this.