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Employment Law

Nip harassing speech in the bud to protect against hostile work environment liability

Not every sexual comment at work is enough to create a hostile environment. If, for example, the target of harassing speech complains and the employer steps up to stop further comments, there are no grounds for a lawsuit. Here’s how that played out in a recent case.

Employee complaint about intimidation is your call to action: Investigate immediately!

Employers are making a mistake if they don’t immediately take action when a worker complains about intimidation and implied threats. While all complaints should be taken seriously, some require more immediate action and solutions.

Beware snarky anti-nationality comments

When supervisors make snide comments about an employee’s ethnicity and then demote or otherwise change that employee’s working conditions, those comments may be considered evidence of bias.

EEOC: Restaurant owner harassed teen employees

The EEOC is suing Tosca Americana Italian Kitchen, a restaurant in the Houston suburb of Atascocita, alleging one of its owners regularly harassed female employees, some of whom were underage.

Same broken rule, different discipline: Show why you punished one more harshly

Courts like to see employers equally treat workers who break the same rules. That doesn’t mean employers have no wiggle room. The key is to document why one worker deserves a different punishment than another for breaking the same rule.

Warn young bosses against comments that trigger suits

Sometimes, new supervisors don’t realize the long-term harm a few unwelcome comments can create. Take, for example, calling an older worker “pa” or “young feller.” That could be the germ of an age discrimination lawsuit.

Never retaliate for any past EEOC cooperation

Here’s a warning to share with supervisors: If they find out an employee has participated in an EEOC investigation as a witness in the past, you cannot punish him for that protected activity.

Audit your potential for discrimination liability

Some industries and workplaces are at higher than usual risk for discrimination and harassment claims. Any workplace that has a largely homogeneous workforce may create special risks for the few workers who are different.

Board diversity an emerging issue on Capitol Hill, reality in California

The House Committee on Financial Services held a hearing June 20 on proposals to increase diversity on the boards of directors that guide corporations.

Study: Age, obesity trigger rise in disability claims

A study of 10 years’ worth of claims data by the Unum insurance group shows an alarming jump in the number of disability claims related to joint disorders and other musculoskeletal problems