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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Nick’s Restaurant and Sports Bar in Houston faces an EEOC lawsuit after it allegedly stopped accommodating a disabled em­­ployee with dwarfism.
Some employers want to avoid litigation and don’t like to discipline someone they are sure will sue. That can be a mistake, especially if the employee in question is harassing or discriminating against others.
Q. We have a pregnant employee who works as a nurse and has asked that she be excused from lifting patients during her pregnancy. Do we have to grant her request?
An 80-year-old secretary who had held her position at St. Joseph’s Elementary School in York was terminated after months of what she claims was harassment aimed at ­driving her out of her job.
While a real adverse employment action may trigger a retaliation claim, many minor changes aren’t truly adverse. For example, moving an employee to a different office without changing anything substantial about his job probably isn’t retaliation.

It’s illegal to retaliate against employees for complaining about sex discrimination or harassment. The employee’s initial complaint doesn’t have to pan out, either. It’s enough that the employee reasonably believed in good faith that she was being discriminated against.

Think ignoring complaints about sexually explicit talk, jokes or inappropriate touching will make the problems go away? Wrong! Chances are the behavior will only escalate.

Employers that don’t do enough to combat sexual harassment in the workplace face liability under Title VII. But it doesn’t follow that har­­assed em­­ployees can also sue under state law for negligent supervision. Employees have to be satisfied with the remedies under Title VII and can’t go for a larger jury award under state common law.

The former manager of the Milk Shake Factory ice cream parlor in Pitts­­burgh has filed a complaint alleging she was fired for disobeying the company’s discriminatory hiring guidelines. When she was hired to manage the store, the company gave her complete autonomy to hire subordinates as long as they were the “All-American girl” type.
You may think that what your employees do on their own time—at work or socially—is their business. That could be a big mistake. Your company culture may end up as evidence in a race discrimination lawsuit someday soon unless you do something about institutional and social segregation.
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