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.
Employers don’t have to put up with angry and abusive employees who try to make life miserable for others. That’s true even if the employee is disabled and has taken FMLA and other leave to deal with mental problems or medical conditions that may be contributing to poor behavior.
File this one under "ironic." Solano County (Calif.) disability services provider Pace Solano agreed to pay $130,000 to a job candidate who disclosed a partial paralysis in her hand during a pre-employment physical exam.
Employees who complain about discrimination are protected from retaliation. But their complaints have to be specific, at least mentioning why they suspect discrimination. Otherwise, they aren’t engaged in protected activity and can’t allege retaliation.
Denying a request to work from home is just an inconvenience for an employee. It’s not grounds for a lawsuit since it’s not an adverse employment action, doesn’t create a hostile work environment or justify quitting.
Some jobs are inherently more stressful than others and some positions require careful supervision. Employees with such jobs may feel anxious and under constant scrutiny. That can be an unexpected benefit should an employee claim some form of harassment based on sex, race, disability or other protected membership.
Supervisors don’t always manage to divide the workload evenly among employees. As long as the labor division isn’t obviously intended to demean a particular individual based on his or her protected status, workload assignments are within the purview of management and not something that will support a discrimination lawsuit.
Merely informing an older worker that he or she may be eligible for retirement benefits while discussing a layoff isn’t evidence of age discrimination.
Interviews reveal applicants’ membership in protected classes like race, sex and obvious disability. As a result, courts sometimes look with suspicion on rejecting an applicant who was obviously qualified enough to earn an interview but who was rejected because of her interview performance.
Here’s an important reminder for HR professionals and managers who must investigate employee misconduct and decide on appropriate discipline. Don’t forget to provide a detailed account of what happened, whom you interviewed and how you arrived at an appropriate punishment. Make sure similar misconduct results in similar consequences.
Workers who are more sensitive than others can’t sue, alleging a hostile work environment, unless conditions are truly terrible. They simply have to tolerate the occasional unkind comment and other ordinary workplace annoyances.