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.
A former Washington political correspondent for New York-based Bloomberg News claims the company fired her because of her pregnancy. She filed the charges with the D.C Superior Court, alleging that management’s attitude changed toward her after she announced it.
It’s considered protected activity when employees complain about harassment based on ethnicity or other protected characteristics such as sex, race or religion. That means employers can’t retaliate against employees for having filed a harassment complaint. Now a court has clarified the obvious: Promoting an employee isn’t retaliation.
Employers won a major victory April 10 when that court ruled that telecommuting is not always a reasonable accommodation, even for jobs that can mostly be done from home.
A single racially charged comment from someone who didn’t have any say in a subsequent discharge decision isn’t enough to support a reverse discrimination claim.
Typically, protected activity involves going to the HR office or a supervisor and reporting harassment, discrimination or other perceived illegal treatment. For example, an employee who discovers a racial slur on the bathroom wall may report that to HR and that’s protected activity. But what if the employee, instead of going through channels, responds directly to the co-worker making a comment or caught writing graffiti?
When it comes to promoting employees, try to make sure everyone has a fair shot at opportunities. And if you ever bend the rules, realize that you may end up having that flexibility used against you if you don’t do the same for others.
Do you worry that starting accommodations for a disabled employee may mean you have to continue them indefinitely? Relax. In fact, a trial accommodation may actually benefit employers in the long run. If the accommodation turns out to be disruptive, impractical or more costly than you thought it would be, you can stop it.
Q. As a California employer, I realize that I cannot discriminate against employees who belong to protected groups. But what if I mistakenly think that an employee is or is not a member of one of these groups, and accidentally treat him or her in a way that is discriminatory?
Q. I own and run a paper company in Texas. Some of my employees who are cigarette smokers regularly take more breaks than the two, 15-minute breaks that are allowed under their employment contract—and some of the nonsmokers in the office are getting angry. When I confront the smokers about this conduct, I am increasingly hearing them make an unusual claim—that they have a “disability” and are protected by law. What should I do?
Texas Sen. Jose Rodriguez has proposed a bill barring discrimination against the state's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.