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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The producers of “The Price is Right,” TV’s longest-running game show, have learned that negative comments about pregnancies can result in jackpots for employees, to the tune of more than $8 million.
The U.S. Equal Employment Oppor­­tunity Commission filed a lawsuit against Ruby Tues­­day, accusing the restaurant chain of discriminating against male em­­ployees who applied for temporary assign­­ments to a busy Utah resort.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a lower court ruling awarding the CRST trucking company $4.7 million in legal fees. A lower court had awarded the fees after it determined the EEOC failed to conduct its conciliation process in good faith.
A recent study of EEOC ADA en­­force­­ment actions has revealed that Texas employers paid out $9.7 million to employees in 2013. That’s up sharply from $5.4 million in 2009.
The Hertz car rental operation at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport faces charges it discriminated against Mus­­lim employees and harassed them. The employees, who worked cleaning vehicles, claimed managers would routinely walk in on their prayers de­­manding to see the employees’ badges.
Three former 911 dispatchers have filed suit against Allegheny County, Pa., alleging it discriminated against them because of their race. One dispatcher also claims she was subject to sexual harassment.

Some employees don’t take discipline well. What may have started as a reprimand over a rule violation or poor work can quickly escalate for one of these workers. Don’t be afraid to increase the disciplinary consequences if the em­­ployee won’t cooperate or accept correction.

Here’s something to remember when planning your sexual har­­assment training sessions for management: Be sure everyone understands that they must report any sexual har­­assment complaints employees make—even if the employees don’t follow the procedures for reporting sexual harassment laid out in the employee handbook or company policies.

Can you explain why you terminated one employee, but not another who committed a similar offense? Chances are, if you didn’t document specific behavior and provide concrete examples of poor performance, you won’t be able to explain it in court. Resolve to improve your system for documenting disciplinary actions now, before an unhappy former employee sues.

Ordinarily, retaliation re­quires a so-called adverse employment action, such as discharge or demotion. Lesser actions, such as a lateral transfer, don’t count. That is, unless that transfer carries with it serious consequences—such as a dramatically longer commute.

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