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.

Port St. Lucie has settled a race discrimination claim filed by a demoted meter reader for $60,000 and a promotion. The black woman filing the suit was a meter reader supervisor when she was called away for duty in the Army Reserve. Upon returning, she found she had been demoted and a white male now held her position ...

If you have a disciplinary policy that dictates punishment for different infractions, make sure you thoroughly investigate each incident. That way, you’ll be better prepared to show why one employee received a lesser punishment than another. That rationale is crucial when it comes to a discrimination lawsuit. You must be prepared to show how thorough your investigation was and why you did what you did ...

Under Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA), it’s direct evidence of discrimination if a supervisor or manager with hiring or firing power makes comments about an applicant’s or employee’s foreign accent. That’s why it’s crucial for HR to remind managers and supervisors to watch what they say ...

Dow Chemical Co., based in Midland, has announced it will adopt a cash-balance plan for new employees, making it the largest employer to do so since Congress passed legislation last year protecting new plans from age-discrimination lawsuits ...

Q. We are reviewing two employees for a promotion, one is 55 and the other is 45. We are concerned that if we select the younger employee, we will be charged with age discrimination. Are we safer selecting the older employee, assuming both candidates are qualified for the job? ...

Four white part-time firefighters have sued the village of Dolton for racial discrimination after the town’s fire department promoted two black firefighters to full-time positions over white candidates with better qualifications. The plaintiffs claim Dolton Fire Chief Jerry McCullough told them, “If you’re not black, you’re not getting hired.” ...

Citing the toxicity of secondhand smoke, Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed Senate Bill 500, the Smoke-Free Illinois Act, into law on July 23.  The law takes effect Jan. 1 and requires employers to provide smoke-free workplaces for all employees. The new state law does not mean employers can ignore local anti-smoking ordinances. Municipalities may still enact smoking bans that are tougher than state law, but all Illinois jurisdictions must meet the new state standards when the law takes effect ...

When it comes to sexual harassment, employers need a clear policy and a process that allows employees to come forward with claims. That's really the only way an organization can protect itself. But what if an employee who thinks he’s being harassed ignores your policy and acts alone to contact the alleged harasser anonymously? If this “self-help” seems to threaten the alleged harasser, you can punish the employee without worrying about liability ...

Does your organization use phrases such as “fits our culture” or “understands our vision” as part of the hiring decision? If so, you may be setting yourself up for a discrimination lawsuit. Why? Because courts and juries sometimes view such subjective language as evidence that something else lies behind those phrases ...

Employers can fairly easily limit their liability in sexual harassment cases. Rigorously enforcing a solid harassment policy does the trick. But supervisor harassment is another matter. When a supervisor allegedly harasses a subordinate, the employer is liable unless it can show that some “tangible employment action” by the supervisor didn’t adversely affect
the victim ...