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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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It takes just one low-level manager or frontline supervisor to create havoc in the workplace. These people set the tone of workplace communications, and if that tone has sexual content, others are likely to follow the lead. That’s one good reason to make sure you do more than lecture on sexual harassment. Instead—especially if branch offices are located away from headquarters—HR should make spot visits to see whether anything is amiss ...

In the age of e-mail, instant messaging and other written but ephemeral forms of communication, it’s easy to be caught off guard when an employee claims sexual harassment via the company computers. If an employee says she’s received hundreds of sexually explicit e-mails from co-workers or others associated with the company, could you prove her wrong? ...

When an employee sues you for employment discrimination, it’s natural to want to learn more about the person suing you and whether he may have sued others. That information is readily available. But don’t expect that even a fraud conviction related to false employment claims will get the case tossed out ...

There’s an easy way to avoid losing a discrimination lawsuit stemming from disciplining an employee who breaks company rules: Make absolutely certain you discipline fairly and evenhandedly, meting out punishment regardless of race, sex, nationality or other protected characteristics. Conduct regular audits of all disciplinary actions to make certain no one gets a free pass ...

When it comes to filing a sexual harassment claim under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, employees have just one year from the date of the alleged sexual harassment to file a complaint. Missing that deadline bars the employee from suing. But sexual harassment rarely occurs in a vacuum, and there’s rarely just one incident ...

A workplace affair can wreak havoc if the couple breaks up—especially if one is a supervisor. There may be a sexual harassment claim lurking in the affair. But that’s not the only problem. Sometimes an office affair can create an uncomfortable situation for other employees ...

If you receive a discrimination complaint, conduct a prompt and thorough investigation. Then have an independent party decide on any discipline. If the investigation was independent and the decision-maker was not the same person who allegedly discriminated against the employee, it won’t matter if the decision-maker was wrong—just that he or she believed the reason was genuine ...

The EEOC last month issued an extensive fact sheet that explains how federal anti-discrimination laws apply to pre-hire tests. The nonbinding guidance focuses on the best—and legal—practices for cognitive tests, personality tests, medical exams, credit checks and criminal background tests ...

If you’ve never had any formal psychiatric training, maybe it’s time you put your business plan aside and register for Psych 101. Why? A recent court ruling shows how the FMLA can require you and your supervisors to play psychiatrist, too ...

While no employer should condone any form of workplace harassment, it isn’t always necessary to terminate the alleged harasser. After all, sometimes it may be a matter of “he said/she said,” making it tough to sort out what really happened. That’s likely if there are no witnesses. In those cases, the best move may be to separate the parties ...

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