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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Gaylord Inc. of Wadesboro will pay $55,000 to settle a former em­­ployee’s religious discrimination lawsuit against the orthopedic and sports medicine products manufacturing company.
For the third year in a row, retaliation is the No. 1 type of job discrimination claim filed with the EEOC. Employees submitted 37,836 retaliation claims in 2012. That’s only a small increase from 2011, but up more than 100% since 1998.
As an HR professional, you’re probably used to mediating what seem like silly disputes between co-workers. If neither employee mentions race, chances are a simple personality conflict is at the heart of the matter. Leave it at that—with a note for the record.

Usually, courts considering whether an employee worked in a hostile environment look at a period of weeks, months or years to assess whether the alleged har­assment was severe and pervasive enough to become truly hostile. But sometimes just a few days will do the trick.

Employees have a limited window in which to file discrimination complaints and related lawsuits. Miss the deadline and the case is over. That’s why it’s important to document all employment decisions—even trivial ones—with a note and a date for the record.

Say an applicant tells you she wouldn’t be able to work Friday nights due to her religion. Or an employee begins wearing a headscarf to the office. How would you respond? The increasing religious diversity in the workforce is causing more managers to make legal mistakes.

Not every romance ends happily ever after with a storybook wedding. But with the passage of time, most breakups don’t leave a lingering mess. That’s not necessarily true of workplace romances gone sour, where the former love birds may remain in regular contact with each other.
Sometimes, all it takes to cure a budget shortfall is to cut one position. As a business move, doing so is just as valid as conducting a much larger layoff. As long as you can show the change was based on business needs, you won’t lose a discrimination case.
Don’t let pay concerns get in the way of a transfer. Feel free to adjust compensation to account for different market rates in different locations. It’s perfectly fine to adjust salaries to suit local standards.
Clothing retailer Wet Seal appears headed for a settlement after the EEOC ruled against it in a race discrimination complaint that alleged a high-level effort to trim the number of black employees working at the teen fashion retailers’ stores.
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