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One important way to judge your success as a manger is by the success of your employees. An effective manager isn’t just a boss who can extract the most productivity from his people, but the one who produces great future managers. How can you be sure that under your leadership managers will blossom?
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Most managers know that it’s against the law to discriminate against employees and applicants because of their race, gender, age, religion or disability. But they may not know that those same federal laws also make it illegal for employers and supervisors to retaliate in any way against employees who voice complaints about on-the-job discrimination.
St. Paul-based White Way Dry Cleaners has paid $42,250 to a former employee who filed an EEOC pregnancy discrimination lawsuit. The case arose when Michelle Johnson was transferred from her job pressing clothes to a counter position after telling her bosses she was pregnant. White Way had a longstanding policy of transferring pregnant employees to protect them from chemicals used in the dry cleaning process.
Now’s a good time to remind supervisors and managers that they must keep a cool head if an employee threatens to take a complaint to the EEOC or the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Angrily accusing the employee of insubordination or disloyalty will probably be viewed as retaliation for engaging in protected activity.
The FMLA provides protected leave for employees who meet the law’s eligibility requirements. That protection includes the right to reinstatement to the same or an equivalent position when the employee is ready to return to work. But that right has limits. Employers are entirely within their rights to continue any disciplinary action they began before the employee went out on leave.
It often makes sense to offer a fresh start to an employee who claims discrimination. By settling her case and moving her to another position, she gets a chance to begin again, and the employer gets a chance to avoid a potentially expensive lawsuit. To make the move effective, make sure that any new supervisors don’t know about the bias complaint.
One of the best ways to protect your organization from sexual harassment lawsuits is to make sure all employees know what sexual harassment is and what to do about it. The more you publicize the policy, the harder it will be for an employee to argue she didn’t lodge a complaint because she didn’t know she should.