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 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has given a government employee another shot at a discrimination lawsuit. The case highlights how complicated the litigation process has become, since apparently even the EEOC doesn’t know the rules.
Consider what might happen if a supervisor consistently singles out members of a protected class for tongue-lashings. It could be grounds for a discrimination lawsuit. Monitor subordinate complaints, looking for unusual patterns.
If a pattern of employer practices seems to discriminate against a particular class of employees, expect trouble. If one employee sues, the court won’t dismiss the case until after expensive and time-consuming pretrial proceedings—if at all.
In a sign that courts want to discourage frivolous lawsuits, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the assessment of court costs after dismissing a failure-to-promote claim. This is an extremely promising development.
Title VII requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee whose sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance conflicts with a work requirement, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship. If you are planning to reject an employee’s request for a shift change as a religious accommodation, you must be able to support the claim of hardship with facts.
Some employees wrongly assume that discrimination must be to blame if someone doing the same work earns more than they do. But even under the Equal Pay Act, employers are allowed to value employees with more highly specific skills and experience.
One of the most dangerous smartphone functions (from the employer perspective) is also one of the simplest: sending text messages. Considering the rise in harassment claims based on texts, employers should develop policies addressing textual harassment in the workplace.
Questioning the capabilities of a person in a wheelchair is almost a guaranteed lawsuit. Case in point:

The ADEA protects employees age 40 and over from age discrimination in all aspects of employment. That means employers must be alert for signs of age discrimination in application processes, hiring and firing decisions, promotion and demotion assignments and all terms and conditions of employment, including the possibility of age harassment. 

As a manager, you must consider that some individuals may have lost (or never had) a sense of humor and would not appreciate a joke made at their expense. Humor in the workplace has often resulted in decidedly not-so-funny claims of harassment and defamation ...