Overview: Both Title VII and various state and local laws prohibit employee discrimination and harassment based on an individual's race or color. Employers should understand that racial harassment may involve the use of demeaning names or stereotypes, offensive jokes, graphics and cartoon, remarks about the Ku Klux Klan, slavery or the displaying of nooses and other offensive gestures or comments.
To prevent racial harassment, an employer should have a policy that strictly prohibits harassment based on race or color. Further, an employer should have a system in place so that complaints of race harassment can be easily made by employees and quickly responded to by the employer.
Further, all employees and supervisors should be trained on how to handle instances of racial harassment and to immediately report them in order to create a more tolerant and diverse workplace in which all employees are valued and respected regardless of race or color.
Trends: Failure to address claims of racial harassment can result in employer liability. In fact, just recently, a federal judge ordered a Texas employer to pay more than $200,000 in punitive damages based on a racially hostile work environment which involved racial epithets and the hanging of a noose, among other things.
Further, the employer was ordered to implement extensive measures to combat racial harassment, such as a the development of policy and procedures for handling reports of racial harassment; an effective investigation process to file racial harassment complaints; the distribution of a written policy and equal employment opportunity training for all employees and managers.
Beth P. Zoller, J.D., Legal Editor
In a development that highlights the importance of promoting fair employment practices, the clothing and accessories retailer Wet Seal has agreed to settle a race discrimination class action lawsuit for $7.5 million.
The transportation and trucking industry - which has traditionally employed mostly white males - has long been hit with discrimination claims based on race, sex, disability and other protected classes. A recent jury award demonstrates that companies will pay a hefty price for allowing a racially charged atmosphere and failing to respond to race discrimination and harassment complaints.
When employees resign, employers have a valuable opportunity to both gather candid information regarding their business practices and identify risk. This How To will assist employers with the steps to encourage employees to participate in exit interviews, select the right person to conduct exit interviews and how best to prepare for, conduct and process the information obtained during exit interviews.
With the Supreme Court's first oral arguments of 2013 underway this week, there are several employment-related cases of note still awaiting decisions, including one that asks what makes someone a "supervisor" under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The blockbuster gay marriage cases also are sure to have HR implications.
The EEOC is pursuing non-traditional harassment claims such as those by males against males and claims based on national origin harassment, sexual violence and abuse. Further, the EEOC has indicated that farm workers are particularly vulnerable because they often work long hours in isolated working conditions and lack familiarity with legal protections and access to the legal system.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Washington employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to EEO - harassment.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Virginia employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to EEO - Harassment.
In-depth review of the spectrum of South Carolina employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to EEO - Harassment.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Arizona employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to EEO - harassment.
In-depth review of the spectrum of Indiana employment law requirements HR must follow with respect to EEO - harassment.
HR guidance on preventing and responding to workplace racial harassment, including implementing a policy, providing employees and supervisors with training and effectively responding to complaints.
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