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When an em­­ployee announces she is pregnant, the only appropriate re­sponse is “Con­grat­ulations!” Then give her the information she needs so she can take any leave to which she is entitled. Negative comments can be used to prove pregnancy discrimination, but neutral ones cannot.

3M Companies appears poised to settle a high-profile age discrimination suit. Earlier this year, the company filed a joint motion for preliminary ap­proval of a class-action settlement involving approximately 7,000 workers. If the Ramsey County District Court agrees, the employees (and their attorneys) will split $12 million.

It does no good to have a sexual har­assment policy if managers don’t know how to enforce it. Without regular manager training on how to respond to complaints, you might as well not have a policy.
You have lots of latitude to decide the shifts and locations to which employees are assigned. As long as there are no obvious flags (like only assigning members of a particular protected class to the night shift), courts likely won’t interfere with your management decisions.

Some employers believe that pregnant women aren’t entitled to time off for pregnancy-related matters because pregnant women aren’t disabled or unable to perform their jobs. That’s wrong and can land employers in big trouble. The fact is that prenatal visits and even bouts of nausea are the sorts of things that Congress considered when covering pregnancy under the FMLA.

Some employees facing discipline believe that if they file a discrimination complaint, they can escape trouble. If disciplined, they’ll cry “retaliation!” Smart employers counter this subtle form of blackmail by clearly documenting and time-stamping all decisions and the process that led up to those decisions.

Employees out on unpaid FMLA leave are still entitled to health insurance benefits if they were covered before going out on leave. However, if the employee was required to pay part of the premium before taking leave, that obligation continues.

Some employees think nothing of threatening their co-workers. Most employers disagree and aggressively move to stop such harassment. Courts are on the employers’ side: They’ll seldom second-guess a decision to fire the culprit.

Under limited circumstances, a job applicant might be able to win a discrimination lawsuit without actually applying for a job. For example, someone could conceivably prove that it would have been be futile to even bother filling out an application. Fortunately, such cases are rare.

If you need additional incentives to stop sexual harassment in the workplace, how’s this for a motivator: A court has ruled that employees who endure gender-related violence can now sue their employers for damages under the Illinois Gender Violence Act.
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