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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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If you’re a federal contractor or subcontractor, now’s a good time to make sure your compensation practices are free from race, sex or age discrimination. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has ramped up its investi­­gation tactics to root out compensation discrimination.
Is a male employee complaining about behavior you would clearly see as sexual harassment if the employee were a woman? If so, do something about it.
It’s a good standard policy: The person (or persons) who made the hiring decision should also take part in any firing decision. That way, the employee can’t argue that discrimination based on an obvious protected characteristic like race, sex or handicap must have been at work.

Employees who claim discrimination sometimes fill out EEOC complaint forms before they hire an attorney. That means they often fail to correctly mark the boxes that indicate the type of discrimination they are alleging. Fortunately, courts won’t allow claims for other forms of discrimination if an unchecked box on the form ­covered the claim the employee later asserts.

If you place an older worker who has complained about age discrimination on a performance improvement plan  that is essentially impossible to complete, watch out! You’re setting yourself up to pay out huge punitive damages—even if the employee winds up winning just a modest retaliation verdict.

You can’t fire everyone who makes a stupid comment—or even two. But you also can’t ignore insensitive or offensive speech, just hoping for the best. The best approach is direct: Pull the employee aside and explain that neither you nor the company tolerate racist, sexist, ageist or other offensive comments ...

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have laws protecting the unemployed from discrimination. The EEOC has investigated bias against the unemployed and warns employers they could face disparate-impact discrimination lawsuits if screening out the unemployed hurts women and minorities more than other groups.
PBM Graphics, a Research Triangle printing firm, has agreed to settle a national-origin EEOC discrimination claim filed by temporary workers who claim the firm unfairly favored His­­panic temps over non-Hispanics.
When an employee complains about sexual harassment and suddenly finds herself under scrutiny—and sees her schedule changed—she may have a retaliation case.

Employees asking for ADA disability accommodations often end up providing very private details about their health. Carefully guard that information so only those who have a real need to know about it are privy to the employee’s condition. That means you should establish a strict protocol for distributing health-related information.

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