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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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When an employee tells her supervisor she has a disability that makes it hard for her to get to work on time, it’s critical to factor that into any decision to apply a no-fault tardiness policy. Refusing to do so may be disability discrimination.

Here’s a novel approach for em­­ployers falsely accused of discrimination in the press. If you win the discrimination case, you may be able to sue the employee for defamation.

Some employers mistakenly believe that if they hire independent contractors, they can get rid of them at will without risking a discrimination lawsuit. That’s not true. Independent contractors can sue for race discrimination under a different section of the Civil Rights Act—called Section 1981.

Before terminating an employee who has racked up absences that may or may not be related to a workplace in­­jury, make sure she has had a chance to show that the injury contributed to her attendance problems.
Generally, a single racially charged incident won’t create a hostile work environment. But repeated or escalating incidents will. That’s why employers should take immediate, firm action to stop future problems.
An intriguing discrimination case in New Jersey raises complicated issues that Pennsylvania courts may one day have to address: discrimination claims based on perceived membership in a protected class.

If you had to, could you quickly produce records showing that every employee who broke the same rule received the same punishment? Would you be able to readily explain any deviations? If you hesitated when answering these questions, it’s time for action.

The courts—which have been slammed with retaliation lawsuits—have begun narrowing what they consider retaliation. For example, the 7th Circuit has ruled that merely scrutinizing someone’s work more closely after a complaint isn’t retaliation.

Courts understand that during a RIF, perfectly competent employees may lose their jobs. Any legitimate business reason can back up that decision. Just make sure you document the reason before you terminate anyone.

When an employee represents himself, prepare for a fight—even if you know the claim doesn’t have much merit. That’s because courts don’t like to toss out cases without giving every benefit of the doubt to employees who can’t find attorneys to represent them.
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