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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.

A Family Video store in Buffalo has agreed to settle a disability discrimination suit filed by a former employee who suffers from depression and social anxiety disorder. He claims store management har­assed him because of his condition and then fired him when he complained.

Some employees think all criticism equals harassment—the slightest insult triggers an angry response and a formal complaint. When that happens, investigate the claim. If there’s nothing to it, say so and move on. You may be sued, but chances are the case will quickly be dismissed.

It’s not just discrimination against workers that gets employers in trouble. Bias against customers can land them in hot water, too.

Four female executives with the Pittsburgh-area YMCA are suing the nonprofit, claiming they are paid less than their male counterparts and in some cases, even less than their subordinates. The four all say the pay inequities are due to gender, and one contends race bias is a factor.

Sexual harassment victims deserve to have their claims investigated, not ignored. Under no circumstances should you encourage a complaining employee to quit instead of having to endure continued harassment. That’s a sure indication to many juries that the worker was punished for reporting sexual harassment.

If you pay women and men different rates for the doing the same work, you had better have a good reason—one that can stand up in court. Otherwise, you’ll probably wind up on the losing end of an Equal Pay Act (EPA) lawsuit.

Bipartisan legislation working its way through the U.S. Senate would make it easier for employees to prove age and disability discrimination. The Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act seeks to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Gross v. F.B.I. Financial Services.

A federal jury in Sacramento unanimously awarded $168 million in damages and lost wages to a physician assistant for various claims lodged against her former employer, Catholic Healthcare West (CHW).
While Title VII prohibits discrimination based on any race or either gender, minorities and women aren’t the only ones protected by the law. So-called “reverse” discrimination claims are rarer, but they do exist. Important: Managers must not ignore or make light of complaints by white, male employees because of the following misguided beliefs.
A few years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court said employers fighting claims of age discrimination carry the burden of proof to show that their alleged discriminatory decisions were actually based on a “reasonable factor other than age (RFOA),” not discrimination. The EEOC has issued final regulations that clarify RFOAs.