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.

Is your sexual harassment policy up-to-date? If it has been gathering dust and is largely ignored, you are creating possible co-worker sexual harassment liability.
A federal court has sidestepped the question of whether workplace discrimination based on participation in an interracial relationship is illegal under the North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act.
Some people claim they are ex­­tremely sensitive to chemicals and that their condition is a disability that must be accommodated under the ADA. Employers then have no choice but to start the interactive accommodations process. But if the list of chemicals is long and if it’s impossible to remove them from the work environment, you can try your best and may still have to admit defeat.
The EEOC filed only 122 discrimination lawsuits against employers in fiscal year 2012, less than half the number it did in 2011, says the Seyfarth Shaw law firm. They attributed the decline to a series of court rulings in which the EEOC was slapped down for “shooting first, aiming later.”
Some employees are hypersensitive to any criticism, even if it is constructive. That won’t turn a weak discrimination lawsuit into a winner. For example, if the employee receives a largely positive performance review that lists some areas in need of improvement, chances are the court will toss the case fast.
Surprise! Some of your supervisors may be biased—something they would probably deny if confronted. If an employee complains that her boss is prejudiced, don’t just accept the manager’s protestations of innocence as the last word. Investigate instead.
A supervisor for the Burke County De­­partment of Social Services claims she did not know that calling black people bigoted names would offend them—and might even lead to a federal lawsuit. The U.S. Department of Jus­­tice has set her straight on this score.
The EEOC is suing ABM Security Services, which provides guards for the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, for religious discrimination after an employee claimed she was forced to choose between keeping her job and wearing her traditional Muslim head covering.
There are some words that should never come from a supervisor’s mouth—including any statement that would seem to encourage an employee to drop an EEOC complaint. That just about guarantees that a retaliation or interference lawsuit will go to trial should anything adverse (like a discharge or demotion) happen to the employee to whom the supervisor was speaking.
Pittsburgh-based steel-industry supplier Magnetics International will pay $30,000 to settle a religious discrimination suit filed by an employee in Indiana who claimed the company failed to accommodate his need to worship regularly.