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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The Senate on Nov. 7 voted 64 to 32 to approve the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of actual or perceived sexual ­orientation or gender identity.
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law SB 292, a bill that clarifies that an individual filing a sexual harassment complaint under state law need not prove that the sexually harassing conduct was motivated by sexual desire.
The state’s troubled mental health system is reeling from high-level departures and revelations that psychiatrists were investigating one another without the knowledge of the agency’s chief executive.

Some employers worry that hiring a disabled employee increases the chances they will be sued for disability discrimination. Don’t worry needlessly. The fact that you knew the employee was disabled actually helps later if he sues for discrimination.

Tell super­­visors and managers to look out for co-worker antagonism. Avoid the appearance of retaliation by making sure bosses enforce all rules equally and fairly.
Employers don’t have to put up with angry and abusive em­­ployees who try to make life miserable for others. That’s true even if the employee is disabled and has taken FMLA and other leave to deal with mental problems or medical conditions that may be contributing to poor behavior.
File this one under "ironic." Solano County (Calif.) disability services provider Pace Solano agreed to pay $130,000 to a job candidate who disclosed a partial paralysis in her hand during a pre-employment physical exam.
Employees who complain about discrimination are protected from retaliation. But their complaints have to be specific, at least mentioning why they suspect discrimination. Other­­wise, they aren’t engaged in protected activity and can’t allege retaliation.
Denying a request to work from home is just an inconvenience for an em­­ployee. It’s not grounds for a law­­suit since it’s not an adverse employment action, doesn’t create a hostile work environment or justify quitting.

Some jobs are inherently more stressful than others and some positions require careful supervision. Employees with such jobs may feel anxious and under constant scrutiny. That can be an unexpected benefit should an employee claim some form of harassment based on sex, race, disability or other protected membership.

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