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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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North Carolina’s employment and discrimination laws would appear to give em­­ployees many ways to sue their employers. Fortunately, each has specific requirements, which means employees who act as their own lawyers will have a hard time using them to sue you.

Sometimes, it becomes clear to a supervisor that an employee is acting strangely. The employee may be cranky, argumentative and unpleasant to co-workers and supervisors. He may register repeated complaints about discrimination or other ill treatment. And he may make threatening comments. If that happens, play it smart.

YS & J Enterprises Inc., operator of the Dairy Queen at the Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem, will pay $17,500 to a former employee who was fired after she complained about sexual harassment by a male co-worker.
U.S. employees filed 99,412 charges of job discrimination with the EEOC in fiscal year 2012, which ended Sept. 30. That’s just 535 fewer than were filed in 2011, when the commission handled the most bias complaints in its 47-year history.

Q. We know that we are required to conduct sexual harassment training for our employees. But we’re not sure which of our employees we are required to train and what formats we can use to provide the training.

You don’t have to put up with employees who can’t get along with others, raise their voices, slam doors and generally act as if they could explode into a rage at any moment. Those are legitimate firing offenses.
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has concluded that just because an employee who has been demoted received good reviews in the past doesn’t mean that she is still meeting her employer’s legitimate expectations.

Do you regularly audit your HR records for signs of hidden bias? Would you know if members of a particular protected class were getting fewer promotions than others? The start of the new year is the perfect time to identify and correct any problems.

What should you do if one of your employees seems to be having difficulty coping well at work? Start by not jumping to conclusions about his mental health. Instead, focus on behavior and document any apparent problems. Then, based on that observation, consider asking for a fitness-for-duty examination.

Think you can avoid a discrimination lawsuit by making life so miserable that an employee quits, making it unnecessary to fire her? Don’t bet on it.
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