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Sometimes, a workplace rumor takes on a life of its own. And despite denials, it continues to resurface. If that happens in your organization and the rumor affects an employee’s ability to work, she might be able to sue—even if the original rumor started years before. That’s one reason to crack down on rumor mongers.

Employers that do background checks that come back negative should be able to rely on their good-faith efforts to prevent harm to employees and others. After all, employers should only be liable for harm they reasonably could expect would happen.
As an HR professional, you’re constantly being called on to decide whether an employee’s rights have been violated. Take, for example, a manager who does a lot of indiscriminate yelling. As long as he  doesn’t say anything outrageously linked to sex or race, there may be nothing illegal about the behavior. But explaining that to the affected employees can be difficult.
Orlando-based Hilton Grand Vacations has agreed to settle an EEOC pregnancy discrimination lawsuit in which a former employee claimed the company asked her to resign during a difficult pregnancy in return for a promise to rehire her after her child was born.

Sure, everyone knows that employees who make a good-faith complaint alleging some form of discrimination are protected from retaliation. But that doesn’t mean that no one can criticize the employee for making the complaint in a way that’s out of line. If he or she is discourteous, you can and should put an end to the disruptive behavior.

Employers that act fast when an employee complains about any form of harassment can almost always salvage what would otherwise be a very bad situation. The key is prompt investigation—followed by equally fast and decisive action if it turns out the complaint has merit.

Some employees have heard through the legal grapevine that if the going gets tough at work, they can just get going. They believe they can up and quit—and then turn around and sue, claiming that they had no choice but to leave because they were suffering retaliation for taking some protected action. This is an example of “constructive discharge.” But conditions have to be pretty onerous before the tactic works.

Has an employee complained about a supervisor’s alleged discrimination? If so, carefully review any important employment decisions the supervisor subsequently makes. Be alert for potential retaliation.

Here’s a problem that is easily solved. An employee complains that she’s being harassed by a co-worker. If you can easily separate the two, do so sooner rather than later. Merely having a complaint lodged may be enough to stop the harasser. But his continued presence can still mean you’re allowing a sexually hostile work environment to exist.

The Pennsylvania Human Rights Act is the commonwealth’s companion to federal employment laws such as the ADA and Title VII. The PHRA goes beyond most federal laws because it authorizes personal liability for those who “aid and abet” an act of discrimination. And as one recent case shows, aiding and abetting can include making a serious mistake about a reasonable accommodation request.
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