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.
One of the easiest ways for an employee to win a lawsuit against his employer is to allege retaliation. That’s because retaliation is anything that would dissuade a reasonable employee from complaining in the first place. Fortunately, some courts are becoming more skeptical about retaliation lawsuits.
Back in December 2011, the operator of a Dairy Queen restaurant in Winston-Salem’s Hanes Mall agreed to settle an EEOC lawsuit involving a teen worker who claimed she was retaliated against for complaining about sexual harassment. But nothing happened, so a year and a half later, the EEOC decided to up the ante.
Here’s an important reminder for senior executives: If an employee says she will sue for discrimination unless her evaluation is changed, don’t punish her supervisor if he refuses to go along. That could amount to retaliation for protected activity—meaning you could have two lawsuits on your hands.
A federal judge in Western Pennsylvania has chastised the EEOC for not attempting to conciliate discrimination charges in good faith. The criticism stems from a bias complaint the EEOC investigated against a group of six Ruby Tuesday restaurants.
Employers are supposed to reasonably accommodate an employee’s disability so he or she can perform the essential functions of the job. Some workers take that as a guarantee that—should they develop a disability—their employer must find a position the employee can do. That’s simply not the case.
Here’s an important tip to pass on to all supervisors: Never speculate on why an employee may be performing poorly. Focus on the work and leave the psychoanalysis to experts. That’s especially true when you think an employee’s work may be affected by pregnancy or pregnancy-related complications.
Employees are supposed to receive the same compensation for the same work regardless of sex. But that doesn’t mean you can’t pay some men more than some women, even if it’s crystal clear that they’re doing the exact same job. That’s because the Equal Pay Act allows for differences that can be accounted for by any factor other than sex.
Here’s some good news: An employee’s interpretation of a manager’s facial expressions isn’t enough for a successful lawsuit. A smirk isn’t evidence.
Employees who go to HR or the EEOC with a discrimination complaint engage in what’s called protected activity. Even if their claims don’t pan out, they can’t be punished for complaining in the first place. That’s retaliation and can form the basis of a lawsuit on its own, even if there was no underlying discrimination.
Q. Our company has been having financial difficulties and we have considered reorganizing for several months. Our chief operating officer has been charged with determining whether any of the current jobs can be eliminated. Recently, before any final reorganization decisions were made, an employee came forward claiming that the COO had been harassing her and had created a hostile work environment ...