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Discrimination / Harassment

EEOC, DOJ warn about AI and disability bias

The EEOC and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice have released guidance on how employers can avoid discriminating against disabled applicants and employees when using artificial intelligence software or other algorithmic tools to make HR decisions.

Outsource probe into high-level harassment

HR pros face a quandary when an organization’s owner, CEO or other senior executive is accused of harassment. Either investigate and risk losing your job, or bury the complaint and lose your integrity. The solution: Engage an outsider such as an attorney to investigate the allegations and determine how to address them.

All the ways losing a bias case can cost you

It can be frightening to hear an employee has filed an EEOC complaint or launched a federal lawsuit. Headlines emphasizing multimillion-dollar jury verdicts don’t help. Here’s what’s at stake should an employee win a discrimination lawsuit.

Layoffs: Check job-cut list for discrimination liability

Any time you must lay off employees, carefully review the list of people who will lose their jobs. Reason: Reductions-in-force are magnets for discrimination lawsuits.

Avoid hiring based on preferred ‘look’

In a fickle consumer market, you might be tempted to base hiring decisions on the kind of employees you think your customers might prefer. That could be a big mistake. Courts take a dim view of rejecting qualified applicants who don’t fit preconceived notions of who is a good fit or has the right “look” for service jobs.

Using AI in hiring? Beware liability for bias

Employers increasingly rely on artificial intelligence-based software to manage the hiring process. But critics of AI software claim discrimination may be baked into the algorithms.

Don’t suggest retirement in lieu of discipline

Take care when disciplining older workers. You could be falsely accused of age discrimination if you end up firing the employee. Even a well-intentioned suggestion that the employee may want to retire rather than face termination can be a huge mistake.

Beware suits claiming Section 1981 violations

Employees are limited in the amount of damages for emotional distress or mental anguish they can collect if they sue under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. However, clever attorneys have found a way around these caps when bringing race and ethnicity discrimination cases.

EEOC charges drop again, sink to 24-year low

EEOC discrimination charges fell again in fiscal year 2021, continuing a 10-year decline. With 61,331 charges filed, FY 2021 saw about 6,000 fewer complaints alleging some form of bias, retaliation or harassment than in FY 2020.

Act fast to lessen liability for racial harassment

As distasteful as bigoted speech may be, an employee’s single use of a racial slur isn’t always grounds for a successful harassment lawsuit—if the employer swiftly punishes the offending employee and it doesn’t happen again.