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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.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has taken on medical marijuana and the ADA, concluding that individuals who use marijuana, even if doing so legally under state law, aren’t ­protected from discrimination under the ADA. That means disciplining employees for using medical marijuana won’t violate the ADA.
In April, the EEOC issued a new Enforcement Guidance document on the use of criminal history information in making hiring and other employment decisions. In light of the guidance and the EEOC’s increased focus on discrimination in hiring, employers should review and update their criminal history screening policies and practices.

Do you ask applicants what year they graduated from high school or college (or otherwise finished their education)? Does your application re­­quest that information? Watch out!

The DOL's Office of Disability Employment Policy commissioned a study to explore barriers to employing the disabled and guidance for employers in hiring and managing disabled em­­ployees. The study urges employers to follow these strategies to avoid age discrimination complaints:

When the EEOC declared it was starting an enforcement effort aimed at protecting Hispanic ­workers from harassment and discrimination, smart employers promptly looked at their organ­­izations and corrected any problems. Those that didn’t are now paying the price.

Citing the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Oncale v. Sun­­downer, the EEOC has now stated that it believes Title VII prohibits workplace discrimination against transgender people—those whose gender identity or gender expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

Under the Uniformed Services Em­­ployment and Reemployment Rights Act, employees called to active military service are entitled to return to their jobs. That’s not true of independent contractors. But they must really be independent contractors.

In a case likely to be controversial, a federal court has allowed a bisexual/gay teacher to sue his principal for alleged sexual orientation discrimination. The teacher brought the claim under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Some employees are nothing but trouble. They complain constantly, and even gripes that might have some merit are often exaggerated. However, you must think twice before you summarily terminate such an employee. Reason: You could be falling straight into a retaliation trap. Treat such toxic workers with care.

Employees who lose their jobs have an incentive to sue—and they’ll often look for evidence of discrimination to form the basis of their lawsuits. But to win in court, employees have to show they were meeting their employer’s legitimate expectations. That’s hard to do if the employer can show the employee admitted her shortcomings.