Page 27 - Network Magazine Winter 2019
P. 27

use of such power sparingly to raise consciousness and bring out the better natures of employees.
A sensitivity to the human element also picks up prob- lems early. In most cases, potential victims signal their dissatisfaction early, and harassment will frequently test their boundaries before committing a violative act.
On a more practical level, of course, HR managers cannot get by solely by humanizing the workplace- they must also know the law. They must know how to communicate their knowledge of the workplace law as it applies to real life situations. They must know how to conduct a timely and reasonable investigation. For example, some concepts, such as when is “offensive to a reasonable woman” can most effectively be taught by skits and real-life vignettes and examples of such situations.
In terms of HR, most commonly observed pitfalls I would mention: lying, covering up, bullying, exaggerating disci- pline and not understanding what retaliation is, improperly applied "PIP's." Common legal errors and misconceptions include: not realizing how to jointly apply ADA/FMLA; not understanding ADA’s interactive process or “regarded as”
ADA violations; not understanding gender discrimination vs. sexual harassment; thinking severe and persuasive for hostile work environment rather than or; not understand- ing the “reasonable woman” standard; not understanding the scope of circumstantial evidence of causation in such cases; not understanding stereotype evidence; not under- standing how sexual preference cases can be brought- and other numerous areas of confusion.
Ultimately, if things degenerate to the worst conclusion potentially for all, what resonates with juries are three themes in employment cases: respect, responsibility, and use or abuse of power. In conclusion, human beings do not evolve at the same rate as technology, and so there will be continuing conflicts in the workplace caused by emotions and human weaknesses, ego, desires, prejudic- es, and lusts. Complex HR issues and conflicts will persist in the workplace where adults spend a great part of their life, and as a result, great care sensitivity and training is required.

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