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Showing 7 posts in Harassment.

Making It Count—When Employer Harassment Policies Make the Difference

The old axiom that “the best offense is a good defense” is especially true in the context of sexual harassment lawsuits, where an effective anti-harassment policy and complaint procedures are a potent tool in shielding employers from liability for supervisors’ misdeeds. Indeed, these measures can make the difference between a costly verdict or a victory at summary judgment. A recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals case, Pullen v. Caddo Parish School Board, highlights the importance of effectively implementing and communicating an employer’s policies and procedures.

In Caddo Parish School Board, Pullen worked at the Caddo Parish School Board (the “Board”), first in the purchasing department and later in human resources. She claimed that her supervisor in the purchasing department verbally harassed her, touched her in an unwelcome manner, and showed her inappropriate photos. She also alleged that, even after she transferred to another department, her supervisor continued to visit her and made additional inappropriate comments. Pullen never reported her supervisor’s behavior to any other employee, but eventually filed a lawsuit claiming that her supervisor’s actions constituted hostile work environment sexual harassment.  Read More ›

The “n”-Word: (N)Ever Contextually Appropriate, In The Workplace?

Even if, as some have argued, the “n” word is culturally acceptable to some people in some contexts, does its intra-racial use in the workplace rise to the level of legal discrimination and/or harassment?  This is a topic of concern to employers grappling with workplace environments involving communications between people of the same race. Read More ›

Blasphemy or Common Sense: Should Employers Encourage Employee Complaints?

Employers implicitly understand that their company should have a formal procedure for employees to lodge internal complaints about matters such as sexual harassment, unethical business practices, unsafe conditions, or suspected violations of securities laws.  Such employee conduct, whether taken internally or externally, often is protected by various state and federal statutes such as Michigan’s Whistleblower’s Protection Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, and the National Labor Relations Act.  Not all employers understand, however, that there are good reasons not only to adopt a formal complaint procedure, but to encourage employees to actually use it. Read More ›

Five New Year's Resolutions For Employers

As clichéd as it sounds, the beginning of a new year is a good time for employers to assess their employment practices, both to comply with changes in regulations or laws that became effective on January 1, 2013, and to check for outstanding issues that should have been addressed long ago.  While a full-fledged employment audit is well beyond the scope of a simple blog entry, there are nonetheless many simple steps employers can take to ensure ongoing legal compliance.  Read More ›

Sneak Preview: EEOC Issues Draft Strategic Enforcement Plan

On September 4, 2012, the EEOC published a draft of its Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP), which was issued pursuant to the EEOC’s Strategic Plan for 2012-2016. That document provides employers an important glimpse into the types of discrimination that the EEOC intends to target in the coming years.  Read More ›

Sixth Circuit Issues Valuable Reminder of the Importance of Contractually Shortened Limitations Periods

Employers constantly are on the lookout for strategies to employ that reduce the risk of potential litigation arising from the workplace.  In a recent decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals served an important reminder of the importance of contractually shortened limitations periods as one simple step that employers can take to cut off potential employment claims. Read More ›

Sixth Circuit Clarifies What It Means To Be Harassed At Work

Plaintiffs bringing hostile work environment cases often attempt to build their case based on incidents that they did not personally experience, but that they heard about from other employees in the workplace. The Sixth Circuit has ruled that this type of evidence may be considered in determining whether an employee has stated a claim under Title VII, but left a number of questions unanswered. Read More ›