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5 things to avoid doing when an employee files a complaint

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2023 | Employment Law

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) empowers individuals to voice their experiences at work. This includes any instances of retaliation or discrimination. This law is important because it protects employee rights while serving as a defense for businesses. It lays out guidelines that businesses can follow when looking into complaints, ensuring their workplaces are free from discrimination and unfairness.

However, there are certain actions that employers should avoid during such investigations. Ensuring these actions don’t occur can help maintain transparency and shield the business from extra liabilities.

Ignoring the complaint

Companies must not dismiss or belittle an individual’s complaint. Ignoring grievances can only worsen matters. When employees feel a company does not care for their concerns, it could potentially cause the situation to escalate. As such, employers must treat all complaints seriously and address them promptly.

Delaying the investigation

Postponing the initiation or completion of an investigation should be avoided. If businesses put off taking steps to address a complaint, it could end up hurting them. If things escalate, courts may see that as the business purposefully failing to resolve an investigation. Employers should address complaints promptly to avoid such problems.

Not keeping matters confidential

It’s not always possible to keep everything confidential. However, it’s important to exercise caution to keep matters private. This fact applies throughout the investigation. Employers must avoid sharing details about the complaint or investigation with people who don’t need to know. In doing so, they help protect the company and keep everyone involved safe from unwarranted attention.

Retaliating in any way

Employers shouldn’t do anything that some might see as retaliation against the complainant. Laws like the FEHA and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have important rules against retaliation. Breaking these rules could be harmful to the business.

Choosing an inappropriate investigator

Employers may decide to investigate internally or hire a third party to investigate. In the latter scenario, selecting an unbiased, well-versed investigator in the business’s industry and without any conflicts of interest is crucial. The investigator must show dedication to resolving the issue efficiently and effectively.

Avoiding these mistakes is more than just maintaining harmony within the firm. It’s a strategic approach to protect businesses from additional legal complications.