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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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 ...

The course of true love, at least in the workplace, runs straight to the courtroom. But Floor Covering Associates of Joliet received a reprieve recently when the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court verdict in its favor ...

Jewel Food Stores settled a sexual harassment lawsuit with four female employees for $200,000, but the meat department manager who spawned the suit has had a surprising shelf life ...

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 ...

Performance evaluations are important tools to help employers gauge whether employees are performing at expected levels. They can help organizations spot talent and leadership potential, while identifying areas where employees need extra training and support. Evaluations also can protect employers from frivolous lawsuits filed by employees who claim they’ve been demoted, fired or otherwise unfairly treated when the real reason was poor performance ...

Do you have an employee who doesn’t seem to be getting along with anyone? Has he complained about discrimination or some other supposed wrongdoing? If so, document the problems. If you don’t, you create legal risks ...

In North Carolina, it's not just sexual harassment lawsuits brought under federal law that you have to worry about. Your organization could face state tort law claims, such as “intentional infliction of emotional distress” or “negligent supervision” if an employee’s behavior is extreme enough and management doesn’t take steps to stop it ...

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