Every year, tens of thousands of employment discrimination lawsuits are filed across the United States, resulting in a lot of hefty fines from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Thanks in large part to the Internet, more and more employees are now more aware of their employment rights than ever, and businesses who don’t keep up can face costly consequences. In some cases, managers can even personally be sued by employees! So, how can employers protect themselves from this possibility? The truth is, there is no way to completely eliminate the chance that a disgruntled employee will file a lawsuit against you or your company. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the risk. The compliance experts at KRESS have compiled the following tips to help protect your company from potentially damaging lawsuits.
1. Don’t discriminate. It might seem like common sense, but too often, it isn’t. You are free to discriminate against people who come in late, people who are unqualified, even people with an annoying laugh. However, under Title VII you cannot punish or treat employees differently on the basis of race, color, gender, national origin, or religion. You’ll note that sexual orientation is not explicitly listed, but this is illegal by precedent in a large number of cities and states, as well.
2. Document all conversations with employees. All conversations verbal, via email or formal can be presented to a jury. Document all forms of conversations you have with employees, to ensure you have the necessary proof to defend yourself if a case is brought up against you.
3. Know your company’s policies and procedures. Be familiar of with your organization’s standard policies and procedures, including employment law. A manager claiming ignorance in front of a jury will not be excused. It is part of a manager’s job to always be informed on company policies.
4. Work with employees to accommodate their needs. Employers are required under federal law to make “reasonable” workplace changes to accommodate employees’ disabilities. As a supervisor, never try to dictate the solution. Work with the employee to meet their specific needs to their satisfaction.
5. Don’t be too quick to fire people. Before terminating an employee, managers are responsible to try and improve a worker’s performance. If you document attempts to fix the issues before firing an employee, you will have proof and credence in the court room.
By following these rules, you’ll make your organization less likely to face an employment discrimination suit and—if a suit is brought—better positioned to beat it. Anytime you need assistance maintaining compliance with federal, state, and local employment laws and regulations, the experts at KRESS are standing by the help. Don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions!