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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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Sometimes employees who are in trouble for poor performance try to protect themselves by reporting incidents that don’t come close to being sexual harassment. They figure that their employer won’t fire or otherwise punish them for fear of a retaliation lawsuit. But you can take heart: It’s not protected activity just because someone reports an incident. If—when viewed objectively—the conduct being reported seems far from harassment, reporting it isn’t protected, and the employee can’t charge retaliation ...

Chances are your anti-harassment policy includes instructions for reporting any problems. That’s not enough—you also must make sure the policy is implemented. But don’t worry if circumstances require you to veer slightly from the policy ...

When a supervisor enters into a sexual relationship with a subordinate, chances are things won’t go well for the company. That’s one reason you should put in place strict limits on dating for supervisors and subordinates. You can prohibit such relationships altogether, or insist that anyone contemplating dating a subordinate must notify HR first so he or she can be removed from the supervisory role before the relationship starts. Otherwise, you risk a sexual-harassment lawsuit, especially if the supervisor later punishes the subordinate ...

Having a clear, comprehensive and responsive harassment policy in place—and advertising its existence—is the best way to prevent a hostile work environment. Not coincidentally, that’s also the best way to avoid legal trouble. Not only can a policy prevent harassment by letting everyone know what’s unacceptable, but it also ensures employees who believe they have been victims of harassment can’t claim ignorance of the available remedies ...

Employers can’t retaliate against employees for filing discrimination claims. But that doesn’t mean you have to treat such employees with kid gloves. Just tell managers and supervisors to apply the “smell test” to any proposed change to the complaining employee’s work assignments ...

Unlike several other forms of discrimination—such as discrimination based on perceived disability—being mistaken for a member of a religious group and then being discriminated against based on that mistaken association isn’t illegal ...

Mark Pasternak, of Buffalo, a former youth aide for the Office of Child and Family Services, won a $150,000 verdict for discrimination he suffered nearly a decade ago. Pasternak said, “They called it reverse racism, but for me, I thought all along it was just plain racism” ...

Developing, implementing and enforcing a comprehensive anti-harassment policy is vital to create a safe and comfortable work environment and minimize the potential damage from harassment lawsuits. But having an anti-harassment policy is not enough; the policy must be implemented, promulgated and consistently enforced. Training employees and managers on harassment law and the employer’s harassment policy is an important part of an employer’s defense against a harassment claim—whether the alleged harassment was by a supervisor or a co-worker ...

In a term that will be dominated by cases concerning Guantanamo detainees and the power of the Executive branch, the U.S. Supreme Court will also hear an important case involving employment discrimination.

Millions of Americans have diabetes, and millions more have it but don’t know it. But with new medications and careful diet, most diabetics can control their condition and lead largely normal lives. That has implications for how employers handle their ADA obligations ...

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