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Management article
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Reference no. U9904B
Authors: Jim Kling
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Management Update", 1999

Abstract

It''s no secret that workplace-related lawsuits are proliferating, or that juries often side with aggrieved employees, even if the evidence is flimsy. And companies have learned to protect themselves. HR managers work hard to ensure that hiring decisions aren''t biased by race, gender, or age. They make sure that poor performance on the part of an employee is carefully documented and communicated before he or she is let go. But HR can''t monitor what happens in the plant, warehouse, or office on a daily basis. Managers'' everyday decisions, such as whether to grant an employee''s request or how to handle a troublesome series of events, may leave them legally vulnerable. Common sense and good judgement are good preventatives, of course, but not all instances of discrimination and harassment are easy to catch. This article reveals common misunderstandings and important developments in three of the most common categories of what might be called "everyday management" lawsuits: disability, age discrimination, and sexual harassment. Includes a box on guidelines for avoiding lawsuits.

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Abstract

It''s no secret that workplace-related lawsuits are proliferating, or that juries often side with aggrieved employees, even if the evidence is flimsy. And companies have learned to protect themselves. HR managers work hard to ensure that hiring decisions aren''t biased by race, gender, or age. They make sure that poor performance on the part of an employee is carefully documented and communicated before he or she is let go. But HR can''t monitor what happens in the plant, warehouse, or office on a daily basis. Managers'' everyday decisions, such as whether to grant an employee''s request or how to handle a troublesome series of events, may leave them legally vulnerable. Common sense and good judgement are good preventatives, of course, but not all instances of discrimination and harassment are easy to catch. This article reveals common misunderstandings and important developments in three of the most common categories of what might be called "everyday management" lawsuits: disability, age discrimination, and sexual harassment. Includes a box on guidelines for avoiding lawsuits.

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