Receiving a discrimination complaint is very serious. It can lead to a lawsuit if it’s not handled very carefully.
While most companies want to foster fair, diverse environments there are still many challenges to doing so. In addition, policies, procedures, and methods can’t directly control the actions of individuals.
That means even the most progressive company should know what to do if something goes wrong.
Investigate Every Complaint
A lot of companies fall down on the job by failing to investigate discrimination complaints, or by failing to handle them in a fair and evenhanded manner. It’s also important to secure confidentiality throughout the process.
Selecting a fair and impartial investigator is vital. So is documenting every step of the investigation.
Some companies hire third-party investigators just to be very certain that the investigation is conducted as impartially as possible. This is a very wise move.
Avoid Emotional Responses
There’s something about human nature that sometimes makes people want to lash out at the person reporting a problem instead of taking action on the source of a problem. Receiving a discrimination complaint can put you in a tough position.
Even big companies make this mistake. For example, Netflix is currently involved in a retaliation lawsuit over organizing a walkout at company headquarters in protest over a transphobic television series. Retaliation is sadly very common; many large organizations seem to miss the memo that it’s illegal. Smaller businesses can’t afford to make such mistakes.
Retaliation is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Don’t get angry at the employee just because they pointed out a problem. Don’t try to fire them.
Equal Opportunity Law prohibits any action such as firing, harassing, threatening, or reprimanding an employee for filing or being a witness to an EEO charge, complaint, investigation, or lawsuit. You can review the EEO’s policy on retaliation here.
Talk to Your Attorney
Before you make any move in response to your investigations you should work closely with an attorney. It’s important to follow your company policy to the letter once the investigation is complete, but there may be hidden pitfalls that your business lawyer can help you identify and mitigate before you take the final steps.
In addition, if your investigation determines that the victors are correct you will need guidance on remedying those damages and coming to a settlement agreement that satisfies the victim and keeps you out of court.
Your attorney can also help you review company policies, procedures, and practices to try to ensure that the behavior does not happen again in the future.
Our law office helps businesses protect themselves from legal liability, including employment claims. If you’re not already working with a business attorney it is vital that you retain one immediately to protect your business. Reach out to the Richman Law Firm to get help today.
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Meet Mr. Richman
SCOTT B. RICHMAN, ESQ.
Mr. Richman is the Managing Member and Founder of Richman Law Firm PLLC. In his role as Managing Member, Mr. Richman oversees the day-to-day operations of the firm and handles the litigation of the most complex legal matters across a vast array of practice areas and disciplines.