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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Q. Are there any specific rules defining “early out” retirement packages offered to employees? Our company is planning to offer early outs. Our criteria mandate that an employee must have worked 15 years and be at least 50 years old. But we have employees who have worked as long as 28 years, but fail to meet the 50-year-old criterion. Is this age discrimination in a reverse sort of way? —T.G., Florida

Q. We're afraid that one of our employees may have been subjected to discriminatory behavior. But she hasn't filed a complaint. What should we do? Do we have an obligation to bring it up and investigate even if she declines? —S.P., Louisiana

Q. I know that the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act (OWBPA) requires that I provide an employee who has been discharged as part of a “group” termination at least 45 days to consider the terms of a release waiving his or her rights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). How many employees constitute a “group”? —N.W., Pennsylvania

The mantra in real estate is "location, location, location." But the mantra in employee discipline must always be "consistency, consistency, consistency" ...

Because of a quirk in Pennsylvania law, employers may soon see an uptick in state-based employment lawsuits. Reason: A federal court clarified that all state employment claims must be filed within the appropriate state statute of limitations (one year, for example, on defamation cases). Employees can't wait to file a state claim until the EEOC or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission completes its investigation, the court said ...

If you receive an EEOC or PHRC complaint, don't jump the gun to answer the charges. Carefully inspect the documents. If you don't question obvious problems now, such as lack of a verified signature, you lose the right to raise that issue later ...

Domestic violence isn't always domestic. It comes to the workplace as lost productivity, excessive absenteeism, employee depression, increased health costs and, in the worst-case scenario, as violence at the workplace ...

Q. One of our employees had been out sick for two months. We’ve received a doctor’s note that just says he’s unable to work and that a return date is undetermined. We faxed and mailed FMLA paperwork, but it hasn’t been returned. Meanwhile, the employee is receiving disability benefits through our short-term disability plan. How do we calculate the start of FMLA leave? From the date the disability payment began? And if we never get the FMLA paperwork back, can we terminate him? —T.B., Tennessee

Most supervisors know that it’s illegal to voice negative racial, age or gender stereotypes in the workplace. But they may not realize that positive stereotypes also can lead to trouble ...

Q. How serious is it if written job descriptions aren't in place for employees? Is it safe to draft them even after a termination that could result in a lawsuit? —B.B., New York

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