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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You discipline an employee for a serious rule violation, perhaps by firing the employee. Because you had good reasons for discharging the employee, you may think that you can’t be sued for discrimination. That’s not necessarily true.

Some employees think they can keep from getting fired by going to HR or the EEOC with a discrimination complaint. Then, they reason, if their employer does terminate them, it will be retaliation. Fortunately, that’s not true.
The EEOC received 88,778 charges in fiscal year 2014, marking the fourth straight year of declines after a record-setting 99,922 charges were filed in FY2010. The 2014 total is a 5.3% decrease compared to 2013, and an 11.1% drop since 2010.
A case of alleged transgender discrimination in Texas has prompted New York’s attorney general to launch an investigation into the HR practices of the entire Saks Fifth Avenue retail chain.
Expect a court fight if you reject an applicant you previously agreed to hire because you discovered a hard-to-accommodate disability.

Generally, employers have the right to choose which accommo­­dation they want to offer a disabled employee. That is, the employer—not the employee—gets to choose. But that right has limits.

The fact is, when an employer learns about harassment from any source, it must investigate and act. Ignoring the problem just because an employee was afraid to formally report sexual harassment won’t work.
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a proposal for new rules clarifying federal contractors’ requirements to prohibit sex discrimination.
Employers should certainly strive to make their workplaces as pleasant and harassment-free as possible. But, sometimes supervisors make that almost impossible because they can’t refrain from acting like jerks.
Warn bosses that they should never link an employee’s performance deficiencies to a supposed disability. The focus should be strictly on what the worker has or hasn’t accomplished and how that compares to your standards—not on underlying reasons for success or failure.