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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Employee lawsuits that appear out of nowhere often involve some form of alleged discrimination against someone who believes he was disciplined more harshly than other employees. That’s one reason you should routinely track all discipline.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case that could answer a crucial question when an employee who is a member of a protected class alleges retaliation: Must he prove his protected status was the sole motive for retaliation, or can it be just one of many possible reasons?
The fear of being sued became a self-fulfilling prophecy for Collin De Rham, a screenwriter for the hit cable series “Mad Men,” and his wife after they fired the nanny who cared for their young child.
When posting job openings, don’t focus solely on educational re­­quirements. Instead, be sure to clarify that job experience is also required—and provide specific examples.
A federal judge has ordered AA Foun­­dries to take steps to stop workplace racial harassment after the San Antonio manufacturer lost a lawsuit filed by the EEOC. A jury awarded $200,000 to three black employees who accused a plant superintendent of routine racial harassment.
Smart employers carefully track performance over the long haul—not just when a manager decides he’s had enough and wants to terminate an employee for poor performance. It’s important to lay the groundwork early on, especially if a new hire has obvious performance problems right after coming on board.
Sometimes, supervisors say stupid things. But unless a statement or action is outrageously offensive and clearly related to an employee’s race, ethnicity, sex or other protected category, it isn’t grounds for a harassment and discrimination lawsuit.

If you ever have to face off against the EEOC in court, watch out! The commission has great discretion to expand a case that may have begun with just one employee. In doing so, it may demand a long list of information about your employees, past and present. Before turning over employee information to the EEOC, ask the court to order confidentiality.

It isn’t unusual for disappointed applicants to file frivolous failure-to-hire lawsuits. Your best shot at a quick dismissal is proof that the applicant wasn’t qualified. An application or résumé can do that.
The U.S. Supreme Court and federal agencies look askance at employers that don’t train employees and supervisors how to prevent, detect and report harassment. As a practical matter, such training is essentially required.
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