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.
Ignoring an employee’s persistent complaints that she’s being paid less than her male counterparts may amount to a willful violation of the Equal Pay Act (EPA). And willful violations add a year onto the two years of back-pay liability.
Ignoring a discrimination complaint can set in motion an unstoppable litigation train wreck. That’s especially true if you fail to investigate a boss who ends up retaliating against the complaining employee.
Do you have one of those employees who are never happy and always seem to find something to complain about? It may be tempting to ignore the constant complaining or chalk it all up to personality conflicts, but that would probably be a mistake. Carefully document the tension and your response.
Sometimes an employee may feel uncomfortable with the close proximity and may even interpret another employee’s innocent behavior as sexual harassment. While you must respond to every sexual harassment complaint and investigate, that doesn’t mean each incident warrants corrective action. Use common sense.
Good news for employers fighting off discrimination claims: Courts are losing patience with lawsuits based on little more than the argument that “it must have been discrimination.”
The federal Equal Pay Act (EPA) is supposed to ensure that men and women doing the same job aren’t paid differently based on their sex. But employees can’t win EPA lawsuits simply by comparing their rates of pay and job titles. Lots of factors unrelated to gender may influence pay.
Former government employee Shari Hutchison has settled her discrimination complaint against Cuyahoga County for $100,000 after winning a landmark decision for gay and lesbian workers.
There’s some good news for employers concerned about retaliation after an employee participates in protected activity such as testifying in another employee’s discrimination lawsuit. If a substantial amount of time has passed since the employee’s testimony, any disciplinary action you take probably won’t be enough to form the basis of a retaliation claim.
If a pregnant employee hears anything other than “Congratulations!” when she shares the news, she may get suspicious. And things will really get messy if the employee suddenly finds herself contending with schedule changes and comments indicating her pregnancy isn’t exactly welcome news.
Some employees facing criticism will own up to the problem and work to improve. Others simply refuse to recognize that their performance is subpar or contributing to discord in the workplace. Either way, it’s worth at least extending to the employee a chance to improve and keep his job—after you have documented the nature of the problem.