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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Q. One of our employees was recently accused of sending sexually harassing texts to another employee. The complaining employee said she was so upset by the texts she deleted them; the accused employee adamantly denies sending the texts. Can we search the accused employee’s cellphone or is there a way to retrieve the messages from the complaining employee’s phone?
It’s the employer that gets to choose a reasonable accommodation for a disabled worker, not the employee. While a disabled worker may prefer one solution over another, that’s not relevant.
The ADA says you must reasonably accommodate disabled employees. That requires substantial discussion with the employee to understand her condition and formulate a solution.
Q. We let a female cashier at our restaurant wear a religious head covering, despite our policy against hats. Now, a male employee has started wearing a camouflage cap, claiming his religious idol is Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty.” He says his “religion” is sincere. Can we tell him to remove the cap?
Can an employer refuse to hire a person because that person’s family member had at one time complained to the U.S. Equal Employ­­ment Oppor­­tunity Commission? The EEOC doesn’t think so.
Do you have an employee with a spotty attendance record who suddenly claims she can’t come to work on her day of worship? Employees can’t sue for denial of reasonable religious accommodations unless they prove three things.
While most employees know it isn’t socially acceptable to use racial slurs, some may not realize that religion is an equally sensitive topic, especially for religions that have been targeted for abuse and worse for decades or even centuries. Why not eliminate potential litigation costs with solid education?
Handle every complaint the same way, no matter the source. Don’t fail to investigate just because an employee has cried wolf in the past.
Think you have plenty of time to investigate sexual harassment complaints? Think again. The fact is that even a few days of unresolved sexual harassment can become the basis for a lawsuit. Act ­­immediately to stop harassment or face the ­consequences.
Courts don’t want to tie management’s hands; they just want to protect employees from genuine retaliation. That’s why the standard for retaliation is anything that would dissuade a reasonable worker from complaining in the first place. Most minor discipline doesn’t reach that level.
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