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.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced it will hear an important case next term on the definition of “supervisor” under Title VII harassment law. At issue: Whether the supervisor liability rule applies to employees who oversee and direct other’s daily work but have no formal authority to hire, fire, demote or promote.
Covered under Title VII, race discrimination and harassment can spark employee lawsuits when co-workers engage in joking or horseplay, when managers allow prejudice to enter their supervisory decisions, and even in the case of negative employment acts against white employees, known as reverse discrimination.
Employers can’t discriminate against someone based on her national origin. But what about discrimination based on whether someone is in the country illegally? Is that also national-origin discrimination? The answer is a resounding “No!” according to a recent 7th Circuit Court of Appeals case.
Employees occasionally have what can be called “I’m mad as hell and I can’t take it any more” moments. They make a lot of noise and storm out the door. Maybe they toss an “I quit” over their shoulder on the way out. In such cases, it’s best to let those employees know as soon as possible that you accept the resignation.
Some jobs demand relevant, real-world work experience. If a failed applicant sues, claiming a college degree should have trumped on-the-job experience, you’ll probably win—if you can justify your experience requirements.
The jubilation was short-lived after an employer won what would have been a significant victory that might have reduced the number of cases the EEOC litigates. Alas, an appeals court quickly turned the tables.
The EEOC has just won a significant legal victory without even having to go to trial. It recently alleged that some last-chance agreements automatically violate Title VII if they prevent employees from filing EEOC actions. The agreements in question contained a clause that had employees promising not to file discrimination charges in exchange for keeping their jobs.
You just terminated an employee for misconduct or poor performance. A few weeks later, you receive an EEOC complaint alleging that the employee suffered years of harassment and discrimination. If you didn’t have clear rules in place for reporting such conduct, you may be facing years of litigation.
Sometimes, sexual harassment happens after hours, not in the workplace. But if there’s a sufficient connection to work, employers may still be liable.
When employees face discipline (or fear they might be punished soon), they’ll often file a preemptive EEOC complaint. Then, when discipline comes down, they argue that it was in retaliation for complaining. To make such a case, an employee must show that the people involved in the discipline knew about the complaint. If they didn’t, there can be no retaliation.