How to Have That “Tough Conversation” with Your Employee

You’re a CEO or a Human Resources (HR) executive who wants to do everything possible to avoid such lawsuits. To that end, 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 recover substantial damages.

Ignorance of 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. That might not matter. A company’s bureaucratic ignorance or even 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 a decent way” in this context can be seen as retaliation.

If you are an employer who is confused about how to create a safe, legal hiring and firing process, Nancy Gray and her team want to help. Get in touch now to set up your free consultation.


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