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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Aerospace and defense contractor ATK has agreed to pay a job applicant $100,000 after she complained about discriminatory hiring practices at the company’s Eden Prairie plant.

When an employee or applicant claims she was passed over for a job because of discrimination, she generally has to show that she was clearly the best-qualified candidate for the position. Some will argue that cumulative years of experience trump other factors. That’s not always true.

Do you administer make-or-break tests that everyone must pass? If so, make sure you test everyone under similar circumstances. Keep careful records of testing conditions and test results. That way, if someone claims the test was biased, you can at least show it was administered fairly and impartially.
Not everyone wants to cooperate when an employer begins investigating discrimination or harassment charges. One solution is to tell all em­­ployees they must cooperate. Otherwise, they risk being disciplined. If that doesn’t work, you now have an option ...
Here’s an important reminder that it takes just one Nean­der­thal boss to launch a lawsuit: Treat­­ing working mothers differently than working fathers is sex discrimination. Never turn a blind eye if you hear a super­visor is doing just that.

Some sexual harassment complaints don’t pan out. If, after investigating, you conclude that no harassment took place, the employee who complained may not be satisfied. How should you handle her? Your best bet is to address her concerns about having to work around the alleged harasser.

Here’s an important factor when considering discharge: Dis­­crimi­­nation complaints made years ago can form the basis for a lawsuit if the underlying events show a pattern of discrimination.
If someone was terminated for breaking workplace rules, he may claim you treated others outside his protected classification more favorably. The best way to counter such charges is with very specific records showing why you believe each punishment fit the rule violation.

For an employee to win a dis­crimination lawsuit, he has to show that he was qualified for the job he held. Some employers assume that if they disciplined the employee for poor performance, that proves he wasn’t qualified. But a court might not see it that way if you trained and tested him before putting him to work.

The California Supreme Court has issued a long-awaited decision on whether the “mixed-motive” de­­fense applies to employment discrimination claims under the California Fair Em­­ployment and Housing Act (FEHA).
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