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Harassment and Discrimination – More Than You Think

A stereotypical view of discrimination pits a lecherous boss against his secretary. He makes lewd or suggestive comments to her. He stands too close, touching her inappropriately. He plays off his unethical behavior as “just a joke,” and perhaps the secretary feels forced to tolerate her boss’s behavior, for fear of losing her job.

It’s easy to recognize this scenario as against the law. But how would you handle these instances?

  1. You’re trying to decide which of two equally qualified candidates to hire. One is unmarried, and the other looks to be several months pregnant. Can your company afford to give family leave to a new worker just a few months after hiring her? Should you discuss the situation with her during the hiring process?
  2. Your company is considering candidates for promotion to lead a new location. One of your top candidates comes into work visibly upset. Word around the office is that he’s been diagnosed with cancer. How does this affect his standing for the promotion?
  3. A transgender employee uses the women’s restroom. One of your customers, who was in the restroom at the time, complains to you about the employee’s inappropriate behavior. She feels uncomfortable about the presence of a man in the women’s restroom.
  4. A Muslim employee requests time and a quiet space for prayers that his faith requires him to make several times daily. Other employees notice that this employee “gets extra break time.” Do you deduct the Muslim employee’s prayer time from his regular break time? Do you give extra break time to your non-Muslim employees?