Retaliation is the most frequently alleged basis of discrimination raised before the EEOC. Preventing claims of retaliation in the workplace is surprisingly easy and does not take much effort or time.
Take the following steps to help eliminate retaliation claims in your workplace.
Create an Anti-Retaliation Policy
Have a policy against retaliation in your Employee Handbook. The policy should specify what retaliation is, state that retaliation won't be tolerated and set forth a process for reporting and investigating complaints. For a model policy, please contact your Human Resources Consultant.
Provide Training to Managers and Supervisors
Provide general training to all managers and supervisors on what types of conduct constitute retaliation and how to respond when an employee complaint is brought to their attention. In addition, when a complaint occurs, provide additional training to the managers and supervisors who work with the complaining employee (and, where appropriate, co-workers) regarding their non-retaliation obligations. All training should be documented.
Take Employee Complaints Seriously
Take all employee complaints seriously and perform a thorough investigation. If the complaint has any basis, remedy the situation immediately. When conducting an investigation, remember to focus on the wrongdoer, not the employee who complained.
Do Not Ignore or Isolate Complaining Employees
Employees who complain of unlawful conduct should not be ignored or treated as pariahs. Instead, be proactive and engage with the complaining employee. Provide the employee with a copy of the anti-retaliation policy and tell the employee to let you know if he experiences problems. “Touch base” with the employee during and after the investigation to ensure that there have been no further incidents or other problems. Finally, document all discussions with the employee.
Closely Review Subsequent Employment Actions
Contact your Human Resources Consultant to review subsequent employment actions affecting the employee before implementation to ensure that unlawful retaliation is playing no role in the action.
Remember: The Employee’s Perception Is What Matters
The employee does not have to be correct that the Company acted in an unlawful manner in order to raise a successful retaliation claim. If an employee reasonably believes that the Company (a) acted in a discriminatory manner or (b) is doing something else that is unlawful, and the employee opposes the perceived wrongful practice – the employee is protected from retaliation -- even if it turns out that the employee is wrong.
For more information about retaliation, please contact your certified Stratus HR expert. Not a current Stratus HR client? Book a free consultation and our team will contact you shortly.
Source: EPLI Pro, reposted with permission