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Discipline / Investigations

Keep digging: EEOC complaint might not tell the whole story


When you receive an EEOC complaint, investigate what other claims the employee, applicant or former employee could potentially bring. Courts have been granting more latitude to throw additional accusations into EEOC complaints after the fact.

Separate the ‘conduct’ from the disability


Some disabled employees have the mistaken notion that their disabilities give them a pass that excuses unacceptable behavior. However, there’s no duty to accommodate what is essentially conduct. For example, employers don’t have to tolerate an alcoholic who shows up at work disheveled and reeking of alcohol or someone with a mental disorder who threatens to harm co-workers.

What would you do? Employee claims harassment but won’t identify alleged culprit


Occasionally, employees work up the nerve to complain about sexual harassment only to get cold feet about pressing their complaints. What should you do if an employee complains, but then just asks for a transfer instead of identifying the alleged harasser? That’s the situation one employer recently faced.

Workers’ comp carrier saga ends with $37 million settlement


The commissioner of California’s Department of Insurance has reached a $37.3 million settlement of four lawsuits stemming from Fremont Indemnity Co.’s 2003 bankruptcy.

Use ‘fresh-start’ policy to cut retaliation risk


It often makes sense to give a fresh start to a poorly performing employee who has been complaining about discrimination. Place her in another position with a new supervisor, new co-workers and a clean disciplinary record. Then if her workplace problems persist, you can terminate her without worrying about retaliation claims.

Firing harasser is necessary, even if long-ago age comment could spark lawsuit


Terminations aren’t always clean. Sometimes they’re damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situations. That’s often so when you conclude that an employee harassed another and must be terminated. With nothing to lose, the fired employee may try to concoct a discrimination lawsuit.

Instant response to harassment complaint cuts liability risk


Here’s another reason to act fast when an employee says a co-worker has sexually harassed her: Employers that act quickly seldom lose sexual harassment lawsuits if their action stops the harassment.

Discipline a day after complaint? See you in court


Here’s a good reason to be careful about disciplining employees right after they complain about possible discrimination: A court may view the timing as so suspicious that it won’t  toss out the case early. Then it will be up to you to prove the complaint and discipline weren’t related.

Even the best sexual harassment policy is useless without supervisor vigilance


No sexual harassment policy will protect your company if what is going on in the cubicles or on the shop floor is blatantly offensive. It may not even matter that the offended or harassed employee didn’t follow your complaint policy and report the harassment to upper management. If she tried to talk to her immediate supervisor, that’s enough.

Make sure managers report sexual harassment


The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that managers who actually supervise the work of subordinates have a duty to report sexual harassment when they learn of it. If they don’t, their employer can still be held liable.