Workplace retaliation is a real problem for employers and employees alike. A study conducted by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) revealed that workplace retaliation made up 42.8% of all harassment claims, more than any claims for race, sex, age, or disability discrimination.
When facing claims of retaliation, employers may feel trapped. Even if employees lie about the claim, courts must consider all the evidence. Employers can take several steps to make sure they prevent workplace retaliation and protect their employees.
What is workplace retaliation?
Retaliation occurs when an employer takes any adverse action against an employee because of a harassment or discrimination complaint. The broad definition of retaliation is necessary to protect as many different employee situations as possible. “Adverse actions” can include poor evaluations, reduced pay, reassignment, demotion, etc.
Protections extend to employees involved with complaints, like those interviewed as witnesses. The law even protects employees who have made a false claim. Employers must not retaliate under any circumstances.
How to prevent retaliation claims
The easiest way for employers to avoid retaliation is to establish a clear policy against retaliation. The rules should define how the company views retaliation, prohibit its use and outline how the business will report and investigate complaints. Employers must take these complaints seriously and investigate every allegation, focusing on the accused wrongdoer. Human Resource departments must keep these complaints confidential and maintain exhaustive records. All information regarding the complaint could make a huge difference in any resulting legal action. Failure to keep proper records could have devastating consequences for a company.
Seek legal counsel for retaliation claims
Employers who do not take claims of workplace retaliation seriously might find themselves paying a lot in damages. Employers who work with a local lawyer familiar with employment law have found success in winning these suits. An attorney can also review policy, assess all claims and work with employees to resolve any workplace complaints safely and quickly.