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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While under some circumstances, so-called sexual favoritism may be grounds for a winning sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit, it takes more than a single office romance or a marriage between a supervisor and subordinate to support such a claim.
A Lake County corrections officer claims the county discriminated against him because of his race when it demoted him after an inmate was injured and later died.
Do you have an older worker who now alleged age discrimination? If you hired him recently, chances are you can use his age at hire as evidence you didn’t discriminate.
Q. We have a long-time employee who will accumulate the necessary points under our retirement program to become fully vested in his retirement benefit on his next birthday, which is in April. At that time, the employee will be 63 years old. He has not talked about how long he intends to continue working or his plan for retirement with our management team, which is concerned about having enough time to transition the employee’s work in the event that he abruptly retires. Can we ask this employee about his retirement plans without creating a claim of age discrimination? (Of course, the employee is also having performance issues, and management would prefer that he retire upon vesting in the retirement program.)
Worried an employee may have an undisclosed mental disability that is causing problems at work? Don’t treat him with kid gloves or suggest he seek mental health care.
You don’t necessarily have to fire someone who committed a single act of sexual harassment—as long as the conduct wasn’t truly outrageous or continuous. Sometimes, it’s fine to issue a reprimand and then monitor the employee to ensure the situation doesn’t recur.
Here’s some good news: Just because a supervisor says or does something stupid or tasteless doesn’t mean the employer will suffer. Take an isolated incident that might be characterized as odd or creepy. While perhaps uncomfortable for the employees involved, most of the time it won’t result in a successful lawsuit.
Sometimes, an employee doesn’t want to ask for disability accommodations, even though it would help him perform his job. Regardless, document your offer to accommodate. That could be a legal life-saver if you ever have to terminate the employee for poor performance.

Here’s a cautionary tale about ignoring a young employee’s plea for help and also ignoring her lawsuit later. Both courses of action may cost dearly—in this case, well over a million dollars.

You need a clear process for handling harassment complaints, following the same procedures for every accused harasser. Otherwise, you could end up facing a discrimination lawsuit.