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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Not every complaint amounts to “protected activity” that shields an employee from retaliation.
The EEOC and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division have signed a new memorandum of understanding firming up the agencies’ enforcement cooperation on discrimination, harassment and retaliation complaints involving local, state and federal government employees.
Back in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that an employee who was fired after his fiancé—who worked for the same employer—filed an internal discrimination complaint could sue on his own accord alleging retaliation. The fiancé, the court concluded, was within the “zone of interest” meant to be protected from retaliation under Title VII. The Court held that by firing someone’s significant other, the employer in effect would indirectly punish the complainer. Until now, exactly who would be included in the “zone of interest” was in question.
Efforts to make life so miserable for an employee that she quits can come back to haunt you. It could be seen as retaliation—even if the employee never quits.
It’s up to the employer to choose which ADA reasonable accommodation it wants to offer a disabled employee. If the worker wants a different accommodation, he’s out of luck.
Bosses who don’t have appropriate verbal filters can accidentally turn a legitimate management decision into evidence of discrimination.
Panchero’s Mexican Grill in Bloom­­ing­­ton faces charges it fired white workers who worked as line cooks because of their race. The fired workers claim managers openly stated they preferred white workers for management jobs, but wanted only Mexi­­cans for line positions.
A former New York City Department of Parks & Recreation employee has filed a discrimination and retaliation suit against the city after she was fired after complaining about pervasive sexual harassment. Although city investigators largely corroborated her complaints against two supervisors, the woman lost her job.
Courts expect em­­ploy­­ees to have relatively thick skins. Behavior that is crude or obnoxious isn’t usually grounds for a harassment lawsuit unless it targets people based on a protected characteristic (sex, age, race, disability, etc.).Still, the “equal opportunity harasser” argument is a pretty flimsy nail to hang your defense on.
Public employees have some workplace protections based on constitutional rights to free speech and association. But those rights don’t extend to the right to be part of a co-worker clique.