Outrageous Conduct

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    There is no federal law that obligates employers to adopt or follow any specific disciplinary process. In the vast majority of states, the default rule is that employment is at will, which means that the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time and for any reason (or no reason) unless a law or agreement...

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    When employee anger turns to violence... "Steve's come back. He's in the lobby and he's acting strange. He's very angry," Kim whispered on the phone just before the line went silent. Kim, the HR director, had to act NOW. What would you do if an ex-employee stormed into your office with a gun? Does your organization have a policy in place to deal...
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    It used to be that employers could take solace - however little - in learning that an alleged harasser or discriminator was an "equal opportunity" jerk. Not anymore. The equal opportunity jerk has a new name: workplace bully. Organizations like the Workplace Bullying Institute and Bully Busters want employers to be held liable for...
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    Once in a while, a case comes across our desks with conduct so outrageous and so monumentally foolish that we feel compelled to share it with you as an example of what not to do. What follows happened in an Ohio factory, and even though the Sixth Circuit, which ultimately decided the case, doesn't govern Rhode Island, there is...
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    The U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to review a 2006 case decided by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Arizona) concerning nonemployee harassment in innately hostile work environments. The inaction means that all employers must be acutely aware of the actions they take to protect their employees from...
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    In February, during which love is celebrated through Valentine's Day, our thoughts turn to romance. But lawyers in love? Even though we're the subject of more than our fair share of television series and movies, lawyers tend to have rather predictable and, some might say, dull lives. A new sexual harassment lawsuit against a...
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    It could have been a scene from Animal House, but the events took place in a real firehouse, not a fictitious fraternity house. Did the dalmatian go hungry? Tennie Pierce, a Los Angeles, California, firefighter, sat down in the station kitchen to enjoy a spaghetti dinner. He took a large bite, he says, when he...
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    Often, it's hard to tell whether certain conduct is severe enough to create a hostile work environment. Some cases clearly cross the line, such as sexual assaults, intimidating words or acts, or pervasive uninvited sexual solicitations. And as the Seventh Circuit has said in the past, "On the other side lies the occasional vulgar...
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    In a recent decision, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Missouri, refused to award punitive damages to an employee who prevailed on his race discrimination claims at trial. According to the court, he couldn't demonstrate that his former employer acted with malice or a reckless indifference to his civil rights...
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    The Eighth Circuit recently ruled that a longtime employee wasn't sexually harassed by a coworker who made lewd remarks and looked at pornography at work. In an interesting twist, both employees are men, but the victim didn't accuse the harasser of homosexual harassment. Let's take a closer look at what happened. Facts...
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