Workplace Harassment is Not Just about Sex Anymore

Last year the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) resolved 87,755 charges of employment discrimination for $236 million in monetary and other benefits. Sexual harassment and gender-related claims made up only 30 percent of the cases. So what are employers doing wrong now?

The largest number of EEOC complaints (35.1 percent) came from allegations of race discrimination. This was followed by claims of retaliation for filing a charge or cooperating with an investigation (27.9 percent), age discrimination (23.5 percent), and discrimination based upon an employee's or applicant's disability (18.9 percent). The figures add up to more than 100 percent because numerous complaints alleged more than one kind of discrimination.

"Employers paid out $236 million last year and $257 million the year before. These figures tell me that managers in a lot of companies aren't doing their homework," says Ashley Kaplan, employment law attorney for Sunrise, FL-based G.Neil Corp. "As a result, they also are putting themselves and their organizations at financial risk."

Managers and Supervisors Are Critical

Businesses today, Kaplan says, "simply cannot afford to have poorly trained managers and supervisors leading the workforce in such a litigious climate. The potential risks are just too great."

"Not every company can afford to have a labor lawyer on the payroll, but most companies can afford to send managers to seminars, and it's well worth the investment," she said.

Another cost-effective solution is video-based training, according to Kaplan: "Videos don't cost a lot. They can be used over and over as new employees are hired. And, when they're done well, they are extremely effective because employees absorb the information the same way they watch TV shows -- intently."

"Videos that are done well use entertaining storylines and real-life situations that employees can relate to. They are especially valuable for inexperienced or newly appointed managers who've never supervised people before," she added.

G.Neil has specialized in labor law compliance for more than 15 years and offers numerous products to help business owners and managers comply with the EEOC regulations, the Fair Labor Standards Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and many others.

Cognizant of most companies' financial limitations, Kaplan and the G.Neil legal team have created a series of training videos for both managers and employees to promote compliance with the labor laws. These cover such vital issues as sexual harassment, employment discrimination, racial and ethnic diversity in the workplace, and the legal pitfalls in hiring and firing.

Related Article: Employee Suits Common at Private Companies

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