Wednesday, March 21, 2012

When drafting harassment policies, don’t forget about disabilities

I can’t tell you how many harassment policies I review (and rewrite) that are simply called, “Sexual Harassment Policy.” Most harassment complaints are about sexual harassment. But, the law just doesn’t forbid sexual harassment; it forbids harassment based on any category protected by the EEO laws. Thus, harassment based on race, religion, national origin, military status, age, disability, or any other protected class is just as illegal as harassment based on sex. Your harassment policy must account for them all. For example, last week the EEOC announced that it settled a disability harassment case for $70,000. In that case, the employee, who suffered from a major depression and social anxiety disorder, claimed that he was harassed because of his disability. Avoid these issues by reviewing and, if necessary, updating your harassment policy to account for all types of unlawful harassment.