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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The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) was created to protect employee benefits plans. It preempts state regulation of covered plans. But many states, including Ohio, have specific laws that cover other aspects of the employment relationship. Those laws still apply in many cases, even if an employer mistakenly states ERISA covers a particular benefit ...

Ohio is an at-will employment state, meaning that employees can be fired (and quit) for any reason or no reason as long as the employer doesn’t violate a specific anti-discrimination or other law. But employers and employees can change their relationships to a contractual one by agreement. If they do, then it becomes much harder to fire that employee without a rock-solid reason ...

Ohio has long recognized a common-law claim against wrongful discharge that violates public policy. For example, firing employees for filing a workers’ compensation claim would violate public policy. The same holds true for some claims that arguably would be covered by specific state and federal laws, such as the ADA and Ohio’s disability-discrimination law ...

The EEOC has issued new enforcement guidance concerning disparate treatment of workers with caregiving responsibilities—or “family-responsibility discrimination.” The guidelines are designed to help determine whether a particular employment decision is discriminatory. Family-responsibility discrimination is not a new type of discrimination, but rather an application of the existing discrimination laws to a situation that is drawing increasing attention ...

Believe it or not, federal courts don’t want to micromanage every aspect of your HR function. When faced with serious claims such as discrimination, courts ask employees to prove they suffered an “adverse employment action”—major damage such as a demotion, a cut in pay or discharge. They don’t tend to sweat the small stuff, such as lousy performance appraisals ...

Everybody knows the workplace is supposed to be free of all forms of harassment. Everybody also realizes that’s the platonic ideal. The good news is that, with vigilance, you’ll protect your organization from sexual-harassment lawsuits because any harassment that surfaces won’t be pervasive and severe ...

Sometimes employees who are in trouble for poor performance try to protect themselves by reporting incidents that don’t come close to being sexual harassment. They figure that their employer won’t fire or otherwise punish them for fear of a retaliation lawsuit. But you can take heart: It’s not protected activity just because someone reports an incident. If—when viewed objectively—the conduct being reported seems far from harassment, reporting it isn’t protected, and the employee can’t charge retaliation ...

Having a clear, comprehensive and responsive harassment policy in place—and advertising its existence—is the best way to prevent a hostile work environment. Not coincidentally, that’s also the best way to avoid legal trouble. Not only can a policy prevent harassment by letting everyone know what’s unacceptable, but it also ensures employees who believe they have been victims of harassment can’t claim ignorance of the available remedies ...

Employers can’t retaliate against employees for filing discrimination claims. But that doesn’t mean you have to treat such employees with kid gloves. Just tell managers and supervisors to apply the “smell test” to any proposed change to the complaining employee’s work assignments ...

Unlike several other forms of discrimination—such as discrimination based on perceived disability—being mistaken for a member of a religious group and then being discriminated against based on that mistaken association isn’t illegal ...

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