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Growing HR legal risk: Training discrimination

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in Discrimination and Harassment,HR Management,Human Resources

Employees are entitled to a workplace free of discrimination. That includes having equal access to training.

In recent months, several lawsuits have been triggered because supervisors allegedly favored certain employees for training opportunities at the expense of other employees who belong to a protected category.

One key point: Disabled employees are entitled to the same training opportunities as other employees. That means employers must provide reasonable training accommodations if needed. Example: making sure training is physically accessible or providing sign language interpreters.

Recent case: The Social Security Administration fired Maneke Purchase after supervisors found her work was riddled with errors and she failed to properly process claims.

Purchase fired back with a race discrimination lawsuit. She claimed that she’d been denied training that would have allowed her to successfully perform her job. She said others in her work classification got the right training and support.

But Social Security supervisors had kept careful records of all training offered and could show that Purchase got the same training the other employees did. The case was dismissed. (Purchase v. Astrue, No. 08-1443, 4th Cir., 2009)

Final note: Make sure everyone knows what training is available and document your training efforts. Keep schedules flexible enough for everyone to participate. If training is a prerequisite for promotion, make sure every employee understands that.

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