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.

Smart employers have policies that require supervisors to document all discipline. That documentation can come in handy if a discharged employee decides to sue. The fact is, employers usually win lawsuits if they show they had a legitimate reason for an employment decision.
Here’s a cautionary tale for super­­visors who have a learning-disabled subordinate. Do all you can to accommodate the employee and don’t let co-workers—or anyone in the workplace—make fun of disability traits.
The 7th Circuit has held that employees who participate in employer internal investigations before administrative charges or lawsuits have been filed are not protected from retaliation. It’s different, however, after such charges have been filed.
Some employees think that any unfair treatment is grounds for a lawsuit under either federal law or California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Fortunately for em­­ployers, mundane workplace gripes aren’t enough to support a lawsuit.

Employees who complain to their employers about discrimination are usually protected from retaliation. But they must at least mention the sort of discrimination at issue. Simply protesting that an evaluation wasn’t fair won’t do the trick.

If you are contemplating changing your compensation structure to re­­flect today’s lean job market, do so carefully—especially if you suspect you may be overpaying some senior employees for the work they do.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has given a government employee another shot at a discrimination lawsuit. The case highlights how complicated the litigation process has become, since apparently even the EEOC doesn’t know the rules.
Consider what might happen if a supervisor consistently singles out members of a protected class for tongue-lashings. It could be grounds for a discrimination lawsuit. Monitor subordinate complaints, looking for unusual patterns.
If a pattern of employer practices seems to discriminate against a particular class of employees, expect trouble. If one employee sues, the court won’t dismiss the case until after expensive and time-consuming pretrial proceedings—if at all.
In a sign that courts want to discourage frivolous lawsuits, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the assessment of court costs after dismissing a failure-to-promote claim. This is an extremely promising development.