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.
Do you sometimes grant employees “special leave” to take care of their school-age kids? Beware if you allow special leave for mothers in your workplace, but not for fathers. One court just warned, “A company’s ‘special leave’ not grounded in law just may be discriminatory.”
When you get wind of a potential harassment situation at work, one of HR’s first steps is to talk to the alleged harasser. It’s highly unlikely you’ll get a full confession in that first meeting. Your role is to sort through the explanations to identify the truth. Be on the lookout for these 10 common excuses:
Some employees seem to believe they can stop disciplinary action just by complaining about alleged discrimination. That isn’t true. A supervisor who has begun a push for improvement can and should continue with the effort despite the complaint. There’s no reason to worry that legitimate management amounts to retaliation.
A federal judge has called for lawyers to serve as “special masters” to decide how to allocate money for minority job applicants who were unfairly denied jobs with the Fire Department of the City of New York. The DOJ filed suit on behalf of minorities who complained they were not hired because of their race.
Not every new hire works out—including applicants who looked promising or at least competent during the interview process. You’ll want to give the employee a chance to improve, but you’ll also want to protect the company in the event of a lawsuit. Providing a detailed and thorough performance review that includes specific examples and suggestions will help.
Sometimes, seeing how another employer handles an HR problem can give you confidence you’re on the right track. That’s especially true if that other employer messes up really, really badly.
Here’s something to consider the next time you authorize discipline or discharge: It pays to independently investigate management’s underlying reasons for the action. Do that even if the employee in question doesn’t belong to a traditional protected class.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FIRA) has ruled Citibank violated state anti-discrimination laws when it fired Edward Laurence Bowne in 2008—and ordered the bank to pay Bowne $500,000 in compensation.
The city of Chicago must pay one of its police officers $30,000 after a jury found the Chicago Police Department tolerated discrimination by a police sergeant.
What can you do if an employee presents you with medical restrictions that limit his ability to perform essential functions of his job? If it’s clear he can’t actually do the job, you can place him on leave.