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.
Here’s something to add to your regular training sessions for managers and supervisors. Warn them against making age-related comments. These can backfire, even if they aren’t intended to be ageist or demeaning to anyone.
You probably make sure all your employees have read your sexual harassment policy. That doesn’t mean they always follow it. If an employee is hinting that she’s being harassed, your best approach may be to hand her another copy and urge her to report any problems right away.
High Point-based New Breed Logistics apparently has some old boy problems at its Memphis, Tenn., location. A warehouse supervisor’s misdeeds have now cost the company $1.5 million, plus legal fees, after a federal jury found the company guilty of harassing and firing three female temporary workers.
Some managers mistakenly believe there’s no danger in firing a new part-time employee. That’s just not true. Remind them to always run discipline by HR before taking action.
In a major victory for employers, the Supreme Court in June ruled that, in Title VII cases, only someone with the power to take “tangible employment action” can be considered a supervisor. The Court’s decision in Vance v. Ball State will make it harder for employees to sue for supervisor bias, a claim that carries strict employer liability.
Here’s some good news for those worried about absolute fairness in discipline: You have more latitude than you may think. Courts will use another employee’s lighter discipline as discrimination evidence only if the two employees being compared committed offenses of “comparable seriousness,” which generally means their wrongdoing was “nearly identical.”
Employers sometimes mess up for perfectly innocent reasons. Everybody makes mistakes, and courts are usually quite hesitant to punish those mistakes if there’s no evidence showing some nefarious intent to harm an employee.
Too many employers assume they can simply discharge a worker who isn’t yet eligible for FMLA leave, doesn’t have any other leave available and can’t work for a short period of time. That’s simply not always true. If the employee qualifies as disabled under the ADA, he may be entitled to a short leave as a reasonable accommodation.
Women’s clothing retailer Wet Seal has agreed to settle a class-action race discrimination suit for $7.5 million. Out of those funds, $5.58 million will go to compensate 1,600 current and former black managers for lost pay and promotions, termination and emotional distress.
The office is no place to discuss gender roles or women’s presence in the workplace. Be sure to warn supervisors against such talk, even in private.