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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Workplace romance has long been the bane of the HR profession. A December 2012 Iowa Supreme Court decision in Nelson v. Knight has further roiled the workplace romance waters by holding that an employer could terminate an employee for being “irresistible.”
Smart employers use past per­­for­­mance rankings as the major criterion for laying off employees during a reduction in force. The reason is obvious: Since the rankings predate the layoff decisions, they’re almost impossible to challenge.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the EEOC have an­­nounced a settlement with two Texas state agen­­cies, resolving pay discrimination allegations at a state department that no longer exists.
Do you monitor all discipline and make sure employees who break the same rule suffer similar consequences? It’s the best way to win discrimination lawsuits.
Only disabled individuals have the right to sue their employers for disability discrimination. A spouse or other family member, even if harmed by an employer’s discrimination, can’t bring his or her own claim.
The key to a successful, challenge-proof reduction in force is using objective, measurable factors to determine who stays and who goes. That greatly reduces the likelihood that a former employee who loses his job to a RIF will win a discrimination case.

Q. As a small college, we employ quite a few adjunct in­structors, especially for night classes. They work on a term-to-term contract for specific courses. One instructor got a very poor review and we’d like to ease him out. He’s making noises about age discrimination. If we don’t renew his contract but instead use a younger, fresh-out-of-grad-school instructor, could he have a case?

Move cautiously when dealing with an employee who complains about harassment and discrimination—especially if the complaint involves a supervisor who now wants to terminate him. Unless you have a pre-existing paper trail showing poor performance before the complaint, going back to create one is dangerous.

PROBLEM: A Muslim employee needs an accommodation that will allow him to pray several times during the workday. You determine that allowing him to do so won’t affect the department’s productivity. Not so fast. The rest of the staff starts to complain that it’s not fair that one employee gets extra breaks in the day ...
Dallas-based DHL Global Forwarding has agreed to pay $201,000 to settle charges that it failed to stop super­visors from harassing Hispanic em­­ployees.
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