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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.

The EEOC has issued a new regulation addressing the “reasonable factors other than age” (RFOA) defense to disparate impact claims under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Understanding the new regulation can help you comply with the law and prevail in court if you are sued.
Q. We have an employee who claims to be a witch. She contends that witchcraft is her religion and has asked for certain holidays off. Are we required to accommodate this employee’s request?

Most HR professionals assume that a warning letter isn’t an adverse employment action and there­­fore can’t be the basis for a lawsuit. And that’s largely true. But if the warning letter also mentions restrictions on how well the employee will be rated at evaluation time, there may be trouble.

When the EEOC wants to take a dis­crimination case to court, it is required to try to settle the case first. That conciliation process is a two-way street. Employers can’t walk away from the process, expecting a court to dismiss a subsequent lawsuit because the agency didn’t try hard enough.
Do you have employees who were born and raised in other countries and who therefore speak English with heavy, foreign-sounding accents? If so, be careful how you approach any discussion about their speech. If supervisors or managers criticize workers’ accents, a national-origin discrimination lawsuit may be in your company’s future.

Some employees attribute perfectly reasonable actions to race dis­crimination just because the ­decision-maker happens to belong to a different protected class. Fortunately, courts usually quickly dismiss such cases.

Guardsmark Security will pay $25,000 to settle a national-origin and age-­harassment complaint filed by an employee working in San Jose.
Employers are supposed to provide reasonable accommodations that remove barriers to working for disabled workers. But those accommodations don’t have to include implementing changes that make a disabled employee’s commute easier.
Floridians filed 307 more discrimination complaints with the EEOC in fiscal year 2011 than they did in 2010. The greatest number of Florida complaints—3,231 in all—alleged retaliation.
Here’s a reminder for harried and overworked HR professionals: Even if your anti-harassment policy states that you will investigate all harassment complaints, you don’t have to drop everything to chase down clearly meritless allegations.