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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.

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The EEOC is putting employers on notice that it will vigorously enforce the rights of employees who serve in the National Guard or military reserves or who are veterans.
Employee assistance programs can be useful for workers facing stress or other challenges. EAP counseling is supposed to be confidential, which means that, except under very rare and unusual safety-related circumstances, information uncovered by the EAP should never be used against the worker.
A federal court hearing an anti-gay discrimination case in Texas has avoided ruling on whether sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination under Title VII. It did so by concluding that the employee didn’t show she had actually experienced sex discrimination.
In court documents related to the state of New York’s sexual harassment lawsuit against the Weinstein Company, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman leveled blistering criticism at the film production firm’s embattled founder Harvey Weinstein. But he wasn’t Schneiderman’s only target.
Deciding not to investigate can backfire badly. Not only could your organization miss an opportunity to right a wrong, but the decision not to investigate may itself be evidence of bias.
Annual EEOC disability discrimination charges, up 51% since 2007, reached a high of 28,073 in 2016.
There’s a simple way to prevent lawsuits over missed promotions. Post all internal opportunities and encourage all employees to apply. If you don’t, workers may sue, alleging that the real reason they were denied a promotion was because of some kind of illegal discrimination.
If your organization has been served with a discrimination lawsuit, one of the first steps you should take is to check any paperwork from the EEOC or other discrimination agencies. It’s especially important if you don’t recall a particular complaint, such as age discrimination or sexual harassment, having come up earlier.

Here’s some good news from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals: The court, which covers Minnesota employers, turned down a petition to allow an employee to introduce a new discrimination claim that he failed to clearly outline in his original lawsuit.

A school counselor who sued because she thought discrimination had cost her a promotion has lost her appeal. Being turned down wasn’t an adverse employment action. And when there’s no adverse action, there can be no discrimination.
When an organization transitions from a start-up to something bigger, company needs are bound to change. A stellar performer may be left behind. That could trigger a discrimination lawsuit, although it’s likely to fail.
Over the years, the Supreme Court has developed a framework for testing whether an employer’s actions are evidence of discrimination or the result of legitimate business practices. The test has three parts that shift the burden of proof of wrongdoing back and forth between the plaintiff and the employer.
If health insurance giant Humana thought it was saving money by paying women less than men doing comparable work, it was wrong. The company just agreed to pay $2.5 million to 753 women who worked for the company in 2011 and 2012.
Employers that take the time to document poor performance with solid, objective facts rarely lose discrimination cases. That’s because being able to explain exactly why you had to terminate a worker for poor performance tends to show that discrimination probably wasn’t a factor.

The EEOC enforces the nation’s employment discrimination laws. Its strategic plan, issued every five years, presents its overarching plan for carrying out its mission relative to issues emerging in the workplace and the resources available to the commission. The strategic plan gives employers an insight into the EEOC’s enforcement strategy.

Smart employers make it easy for employees to apply for promotions and make their promotion policies clear. They don’t rely on word-of-mouth or a buddy system to hand out promotions to favorites.

Treat all employees impartially and you’ll rarely end up on the losing end of a discrimination lawsuit.

You should thoroughly train all managers and supervisors on how to treat disabled employees. A worker with a disability who is badly mistreated may be able to claim intentional infliction of emotional distress in Pennsylvania.

If possible, the same manager who made the hiring decision should also make the firing decision. That’s because presumably a manager wouldn’t hire someone knowing they belonged to an obvious protected classification and then turn around and fire that person because of that status.

Despite a changed EEOC position and several victories in other federal circuit courts of appeal, employees alleging sexual orientation discrimination in Minnesota workplaces cannot bring that claim under Title VII. Sexual orientation is not a protected classification under Title VII.

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