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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Here’s some good news: Just because a supervisor says or does something stupid or tasteless doesn’t mean the employer will suffer. Take an isolated incident that might be characterized as odd or creepy. While perhaps uncomfortable for the employees involved, most of the time it won’t result in a successful lawsuit.
Sometimes, an employee doesn’t want to ask for disability accommodations, even though it would help him perform his job. Regardless, document your offer to accommodate. That could be a legal life-saver if you ever have to terminate the employee for poor performance.

Here’s a cautionary tale about ignoring a young employee’s plea for help and also ignoring her lawsuit later. Both courses of action may cost dearly—in this case, well over a million dollars.

You need a clear process for handling harassment complaints, following the same procedures for every accused harasser. Otherwise, you could end up facing a discrimination lawsuit.
Two restaurants in Fishkill and Wappingers Falls, N.Y. face charges that their owner regularly denigrated Hispanic employees and insisted they speak English on the job.
A brief, transient medical episode that quickly resolves, leaving a worker as well as before the incident, isn’t a disability and doesn’t mean the employee is covered by the ADA or its later amendments.
G&K Services, which operates laundry facilities under federal contract in seven states, has agreed to pay more than $1.8 million and reform its hiring systems after the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs cited it for systemic discrimination.

To bring a case of retaliation for complaining about discrimination or harassment, employees must show that they suffered some sort of “adverse employment action” in response to their complaint. That’s easy if the employee is demoted, fired or transferred to a less desirable position. But what if the worker experiences more subtle retaliation, like having to do more work or being transferred to a potentially better position that doesn’t pan out?

An Austin. TX.-area amusement park allegedly took a developmentally disabled janitor for a ride then booted him out of his job. According to an EEOC lawsuit, the man had worked for the company satisfactorily for four years despite having suffered a traumatic brain injury as a child.

The ADA requires employers and employees to discuss potential reasonable disability accommodations with each other. However, the bottom line is this: The employer gets to choose which accommodation to implement, not the employee. As long as the chosen accommodation is reasonable, the employee’s desires take no precedence.

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