Earlier this week our blog discussed some initial questions companies should ask themselves to see how well prepared they are for possible retaliation claims. In addition to the tips in Part One of Avoiding Retaliation Claims, organizations can incorporate basic practices such as those discussed below to help prevent or reduce the likelihood of a retaliation charge or lawsuit.
To prevent retaliation, employers should take the following steps:
- Adopt a strong anti-retaliation policy. While this policy can be contained in your organization’s anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, a separate anti-retaliation policy may be more effective. It should make clear that your organization will not tolerate retaliatory conduct.
- Inform employees about the process for reporting alleged retaliation. Your organization’s anti-retaliation policy should state to whom employees report retaliation.
- Train supervisors and managers on retaliation. Individuals accused of discrimination may unconsciously lash out. Managers and supervisors should be trained on acceptable and unacceptable responses to protected activity under the anti-discrimination laws.
- Remind those who are accused of discrimination of the organization’s policy prohibiting retaliation against the complainant and/ or witnesses. Inform supervisors that they will be subjected to disciplinary action if they retaliate against individuals who complain of discrimination or who provide information related to a discrimination complaint.
- Monitor the treatment of employees who complain of discrimination or who provide information related to discrimination complaints to ensure that they are not subjected to retaliation. Carefully scrutinize any proposed adverse action against a discrimination complainant or witness to ensure that it is based on a legitimate and not retaliatory reason.
- Investigate allegations of retaliation and take prompt corrective action when it occurs. Retaliation should be stopped even if it is not significant enough to violate federal law.
If a retaliation complaint is received, determine:
- The date of the employment action compared to the date of the retaliation complaint.
- Documentation of the employees past poor performance or other reason for any adverse employment action.
- If employees in similar situations were treated the same way.
- If the person who made the adverse employment action decision was aware of any concern or compliant from the employee alleging illegal discrimination or other unlawful employer activity.