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.
To achieve compliance and prevent successful discrimination claims (which could involve class-action exposure), employers must be attuned to workplace issues around national origin, religion and race. For most employers, this means training management and HR personnel to carefully consider their policy-making and daily decisions that can affect such issues.
Here’s some good news. A court has quickly dismissed a pay disparity lawsuit that a university mathematics professor filed accusing her university of paying male faculty more than their female colleagues.
Yes, all employees are supposed to be treated equally when they break the same rule. But when courts compare discipline, they don’t do so across the entire organization. They focus on one supervisor at a time. Company-wide variations are normal and not absolute proof of discrimination.
The EEOC has won a major case in its ongoing efforts to help lactating women who want to return to work. The 5th Circuit has accepted the commission’s interpretation that firing a woman who needs a place to express milk at work is both sex discrimination under Title VII and violates the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) because lactation is related to pregnancy.
Except under very limited circumstances, volunteers aren’t considered employees under Title VII. That means they can’t sue for things like sexual harassment.
When a co-worker makes himself a nuisance (or worse), a robust anti-harassment policy, a clear reporting method and swift and sure action will cut liability in almost all cases. But what if the policy isn’t enforced or a supervisor learns about the harassment but ignores the problem and doesn’t take action? Then all bets are off.
Good news: You won’t be held personally liable—and neither will your company—for what you say in response to an EEOC complaint. Statements made in an EEOC investigation are privileged.
You know you should discipline all workers fairly and equitably, with similar punishment for all who break the same rule. That doesn’t mean breaking the same rule always means identical punishment. As long as you have a good and well-documented reason that shows why each situation differed, your decision won’t be second-guessed later.
By now, you no doubt understand the dangers of retaliating against someone who has filed an EEOC discrimination complaint. Some workers think all it takes to stop legitimate discipline is to file with the agency. But courts are losing patience with workers who use this tactic.
Some employees just aren’t very likable, and that can lead to workplace awkwardness. Co-workers may ignore their prickly colleagues and only deal with them when necessary. That’s OK as long as the co-workers don’t end up going beyond mild ostracism.