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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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Think you have plenty of time to investigate sexual harassment complaints? Think again. The fact is that even a few days of unresolved sexual harassment can become the basis for a lawsuit. Act ­­immediately to stop harassment or face the ­consequences.
Courts don’t want to tie management’s hands; they just want to protect employees from genuine retaliation. That’s why the standard for retaliation is anything that would dissuade a reasonable worker from complaining in the first place. Most minor discipline doesn’t reach that level.
It’s more important than ever to remind supervisors that it’s unlawful to try to “get even” with people (staff or applicants) because they com­­plain about discrimination, either in house or to a government agency. While employee complaints to the EEOC about every type of discrimination declined from 2012 to 2013, only one rose: retaliation.
Employees who claim they were disciplined more severely than other employees have to compare themselves to similarly situated workers outside their protected class. They can’t claim someone in their same class got better treatment.
Here’s how to handle sexual har­­ass­­ment complaints: Investigate fast and fix any problems you find. Then don’t fear legitimate discipline afterwards.
Can employers fire drug addicts? Or are they disabled and protected under the ADA and the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (TCHRA)? That depends on individual circumstances and the definition of “current” addiction.
There’s a first time for everything—including firing someone for violating a rule. But that may spell trouble if other employees weren’t punished for breaking the same rule.
You might assume that firing an employee for breaking a safety rule would be “safe” from judicial criticism. But if you don’t punish all workers equally for violating the same rule, you may run into trouble if the employee can show that others outside his protected class weren’t punished as severely.
While Congress has not yet passed an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act that outlaws employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, public employers are increasingly being sued under Section 1983, which prohibits government from denying citizens their constitutional rights to equal protection of the law.
Include ageism in your discrimination and hostile work environment training. And for goodness sake, remind bosses not to refer to older workers as “old man” or “old woman.”
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