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.
You’re almost guaranteed a messy lawsuit if you ignore an employee’s complaint that a supervisor used a racial epithet. Courts have ruled that even a single use of the N-word can be enough to create a racially hostile work environment when the speaker is a supervisor.
Some employees think that throwing around a few unfounded allegations makes them whistle-blowers. They assume that by reporting what they think is illegal activity, they gain job protection. That’s not always true. If the alleged misconduct isn’t reported in good faith, there’s no protection.
Courts hold white employees who allege racial discrimination to a slightly higher standard than members of other protected classes. The higher standard is met if the white employee can show that the decision-maker is a member of another protected class.
When upper management rubber-stamps an employment decision made by a supervisor who discriminates, the employer is liable for the discrimination. But if higher-ups independently review the situation before ratifying the decision, the employer isn’t bound by its discriminating subordinate’s wrongdoing.
When sexually offensive signs or pictures appear in the workplace, it’s smart to remove them right away. But getting rid of tasteless material isn’t enough to stop a harassment lawsuit. This case shows that it pays to go one step further by educating employees on harassment.
Employers sometimes assume that because a case is in arbitration, they don’t have to take the case as seriously as they would during courtroom proceedings. That can be a big mistake.
Here’s a tip that may prove invaluable if a former employee decides to sue over an alleged hostile work environment: Track and respond to every reported incident. That way, should a lawsuit later allege additional, more severe incidents, you are in a good position to argue they never happened.
While it is illegal to discriminate against an individual based on his or her national origin, that doesn’t mean that discrimination against someone based on her immigration status is forbidden. That’s because immigration status isn’t tied to a particular national origin.
It’s not just discrimination against workers that gets employers in trouble. Bias against customers can land them in hot water, too.
The key to preventing most harassment lawsuits lies in properly handling the situation when you first learn of a problem. A quick and effective response that stops the hostility right away is essential.