Employer Handling of Employee Discrimination Complaint
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), interprets and enforces Title VII’s prohibition of sex discrimination as forbidding any employment discrimination by employers against employees based upon race, color, gender, religion, sex, age, genetic information, or national origin.
The EEOC has provided some instruction for an employer faced with a complaint of discrimination. If an employee makes a complaint to management, a supervisor, or any other employee regarding harassment or discrimination, it is critical that the employer provide a proper response as many lawsuits and claims with the EEOC regarding discrimination rest upon the employer’s response to the employee’s initial claims.
APPROPRIATE RESPONSES TO COMPLAINTS
The first action of any employer after receiving a complaint regarding harassment or discrimination should be the conducting of a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation and the taking of appropriate corrective measures when necessary to prevent them from happening again. In the conducting of an investigation, an employer should ask the employee to explain why they believe that they were treated differently than other employees, and to identify any other employees that they believe were treated more favorably.
MEETING WITH MANAGEMENT
If there was disciplinary action which was taken against the employee, the employer should meet with all management involved those actions. During this meeting, an employer should have the managers involved explain the disciplinary actions which were imposed upon the employee and others who committed similar infractions in the past, as well as have the managers explain the reasons for these action, including the reason(s) any employees may have been treated differently or better than other employees who committed similar infractions.
It is important for an employer to determine whether the disciplinary policy was consistently applied. If employees who committed similar infractions were not punished, or were punished less severely, an employer must determine if this response was justified. As an example, the EEOC provides that the employer should look to whether the infraction was for a repeat offense for the employee who complained about discrimination and a first offense for the employees who were treated more favorably; or if the actions were similar, did the employee who reported discrimination use vulgar language in front of customers or clients, while the other employees used vulgar language only in front of co-workers?
If an employer finds evidence of discrimination in its investigation, it is crucial that the employer ensures that the discrimination stops immediately, that the employer corrects any effects of the discrimination, and prevents it from happening again.
If you are an employer and are faced with an employee claim of discrimination under Title VII, or are facing a claim under jurisdiction of the EEOC, contact the experienced employment law attorneys today at 203-221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com. We have the experience and knowledge you need at this critical juncture. We serve clients in both New York and Connecticut including New Canaan, Bridgeport, White Plains, and Darien.
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