Are You Setting Yourself Up for a Retaliation Lawsuit?
Maybe you are an employee who suffered mistreatment at work, and you want to know what to do if your employer retaliated against you for filing a discrimination complaint with the EEOC. Or perhaps you are a CEO or a Human Resources (HR) executive who wants to do everything possible to avoid such lawsuits.
In either case, here is a quick primer on retaliation.
Just because no discrimination (or other bad practice) occurred does not mean a company will not wind up on the business end of a lawsuit.
Even if an employee makes a baseless, preposterous sexual harassment or wage and hour claim, if a company engages in retaliatory behavior, that employee can sue and win substantial damages.
Ignorance about the rules does not constitute a defense.
Consider a situation in which an HR department is chaotic. An employee who filed a discrimination claim gets fired or demoted, randomly. In other words, the change in employment status is genuinely unrelated to the claim. It does not matter. A company’s bureaucratic ignorance or incompetence does not excuse retaliatory behavior.
A company can get in trouble for retaliation, even after an employee leaves a firm’s orbit.
For instance, when the person interviews for her next job, she may use your company as reference. If your firm discloses that the employee filed a claim with EEOC – or gives her a very negative review – those acts could constitute retaliation.
Be careful what you say during discussions about promotions or demotions.
When meeting to discuss personnel moves, employers should avoid discussing discrimination claims. Instead, focus on the person’s merits (or lack thereof), ethics, qualifications, etc. Even talking about the discrimination claim “in an decent way” in this context can be seen as retaliation.
Whether you are an employer who is confused about how to create a safe, legal hiring and firing process; or you are an employee who has been victimized by terrible workplace treatment (and possible retaliation), Nancy Gray and her team want to help. Get in touch now to set up your free consultation.