SUPPLIER: Interactive Employment Training, Inc., Jericho, N.Y.

DESCRIPTION: This online course is designed to teach supervisors how to identify potential problems related to discriminatory harassment and how to resolve them by following the companyís discriminatory harassment policy. The interactive program presents 11 scenarios illustrating a variety of discriminatory harassment themes. Users are asked questions in each scenario, via simulated e-mail and inter-office memos. Correct and incorrect answers are explained. After users have completed the course, they are given a short test to reinforce concepts learned. It expands based on the number of incorrect answers. The course is introduced with a title screen, which can be customized with the organizationís name and logo. A statement from a high level executive can be included as well, as can the test of the organizationís discriminatory harassment policy. Also built in are reference folders such as Help, Basics, Info and Review; these can be accessed at any point in the course should the user have a question. The course is priced at $24.95 per user; volume discounts are available. An administrative tool is also available.

COMMENTS: The welter of legal decisions and new laws surrounding the issue of discriminatory harassment makes it vital that HR executives keep abreast of the issue, and stay alert to situations in their workplace that might damage productivity and even lead to costly litigation. This course is an excellent way to raise an HR executiveís awareness and attention to the issue. The course has been designed to run smoothly in a Web browser, even on a dial-up connection, so bandwith is not an issue. Most of the graphics are static images, and while there is some animation, it is minimal and should not overload the connection. The 11 scenarios presented are not simplistic situations; they are realistic and often as complicated as such situation can be in real life. Among the cases are one in which subordinates are willingly submitting to harassment, one in which the harasser is a top-level manager who reports to the CEO, one in which a new employee perceives harassment that does not really exists and one in which a well-meaning and sensitive supervisor is creating a harassing situation without being aware of it. In each scenario, the user is placed in the role of the HR executive in the company, and is prompted to respond to the situation in a way that will both solve the interpersonal dispute involved and best shield the company from liability. The multiple-choice questions presented to the user in each scenario are not always as tough as they might be: There often seems to be one choice that only the most uninformed executive would select. That said, the course is interesting, informative and challenging, and may have one or two things to teach even the most experienced harassment-law expert.

A credit administrator claimed race discrimination and was transferred – two years later. The Seventh Circuit found that “the hint of causation weakens as the time between the protected expression and the adverse action increases, and the plaintiff must offer additional proof of a causal nexus.”

A negative reference that would likely impact future job opportunities is unlawful retaliation for bringing a race discrimination claim, even without proof that a specific job was lost because of the bad reference.

The Catering Director of Le Bar Bat in New York City has been convicted of obstruction of justice and sentenced to one year in prison. When the EEOC investigated a sexual harassment complaint, the Catering Director targeted the Complainants with fliers accusing them of prostitution, child molestation and drug dealing. He then asked his co-workers to tell EEOC investigators that he had nothing to do with the fliers.

UBS Warburg LLC was sued for sex discrimination and retaliation. Plaintiff sought emails in discovery to prove her case. The emails were archived and would cost $175,000 to restore and produce. A federal judge ordered the employer, at its expense, to turn over all emails on optical disk or an active server.

A telephone technician was denied overtime opportunities after complaining about religious discrimination. He was also given a more difficult assignment and a van that was not air-conditioned. The court found that the reassignment itself was not an adverse employment action, but when accounting for everything, the court did find unlawful retaliation.

A division bank president mooned two employees who complained about the incident. They were fired for complaining and collected back pay, future damages, compensatory damages and $250,000 each for punitive damages.

A jury awarded $1 million to a clerk at a GM plant. The Eighth Circuit found that boorish behavior was not “so severe and extreme that a reasonable person would find that the terms and conditions of … employment had been altered.”

A customer service representative requested a perfume-free policy or an enclosed cubicle with an air filter because of toxic encephalopathy. She was fired because she accused her employer of poisoning her and because her requests were framed as ultimatums. The Third Circuit found enough evidence to support a retaliation claim and ordered a trial.