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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Employers that face lawsuits from employees who act as their own lawyers know it’s hard to get those cases dismissed. But judges are becoming more sensitive to this problem—and less tolerant of pro se litigants.
The Pennsylvania State Police sex-tourism scandal gripping Harrisburg just got even more complicated. Yet another trooper is suing the state, claiming he was passed over for a promotion after testifying in connection with the original lawsuit that blew the whistle on police officials who allegedly traveled to Asia to engage in sex.
Employers continue to prevail in most New York discrimination cases, but litigation is taking longer. Those are among the key findings of Bond, Schoeneck & King’s recently published 2012 Study of Employment Discrimination Litigation in the Northern and Western Districts of New York.

It’s reasonable to expect employees to obey your work rules. But employees can also reasonably expect you to apply those rules fairly. If you don’t, you risk a lawsuit. That’s why it is crucial to be specific when documenting discipline.

Two bills introduced in the House and Senate would ban employment discrimination against gay and transgender employees and expand their FMLA rights.
If you’re a federal contractor or subcontractor, now’s a good time to make sure your compensation practices are free from race, sex or age discrimination. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has ramped up its investi­­gation tactics to root out compensation discrimination.
Is a male employee complaining about behavior you would clearly see as sexual harassment if the employee were a woman? If so, do something about it.
It’s a good standard policy: The person (or persons) who made the hiring decision should also take part in any firing decision. That way, the employee can’t argue that discrimination based on an obvious protected characteristic like race, sex or handicap must have been at work.

Employees who claim discrimination sometimes fill out EEOC complaint forms before they hire an attorney. That means they often fail to correctly mark the boxes that indicate the type of discrimination they are alleging. Fortunately, courts won’t allow claims for other forms of discrimination if an unchecked box on the form ­covered the claim the employee later asserts.

If you place an older worker who has complained about age discrimination on a performance improvement plan  that is essentially impossible to complete, watch out! You’re setting yourself up to pay out huge punitive damages—even if the employee winds up winning just a modest retaliation verdict.
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