In the U.S., the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) takes care of claims for employees who believe they are being unlawfully retaliated against. Since 2000, these claims have nearly doubled and some people are wondering why this could be. When it comes down to it, sometimes an employer will take an adverse action against their employee instead of helping them through a difficult time. In the case of a workers’ compensation or any other sort of claim made by the employee, they may run into these issues and wonder where to turn next.
There are many actions that an employer can take that would constitute a claim or a lawsuit from the employee. For instance, perhaps an employee has been terminated from a job wrongfully, in their opinion, and no reason was given as to why. When employment termination occurs, a specific reason should be given so that it is not assumed to be a discriminatory case without reason. Another reason could be because an employee has made a claim about something unjust going on in the workplace and their employer took too long to respond to the notion. An employer starting an investigation within a day or two of finding a fault may prove that the employer cares about the complaint and the person who made it, which may help in avoiding punitive damages if a lawsuit is brought up later. (1)
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Retaliation can be prevented, and applies to any action that an employer takes against their employee because he or she has filed a discrimination complaint. These actions could include firing the employee, giving negative evaluations, demoting them, or reducing their pay for seemingly no reason. There are different ways that a company can take action and handle an employee who has filed a complaint. It pays for an employer to be especially careful to take proper handling when it comes to disciplining an employee who has filed a claim. Anything could be seen as a negative impact at this time.
So how can workplace retaliation be prevented and smooth waters be kept?
Policies can be created against retaliation. The policies should state clearly what constitutes retaliation, state that retaliation is not tolerated, and that there are specific processes in place to report and investigate complaints in a proper manner.
All complaints should be taken seriously and thorough investigations should be thoroughly performed. If there is basis for the complaint, the situation should be handled immediately because the employee who complained isn’t always the issue – sometimes there is another wrongdoer at hand.
Make it clear to all employees that any complaints being made will be kept confidential between you and them. It is also beneficial to let the employee know that filing a complaint will not affect their future career opportunities.
Records should be kept in place all the way from the initial complaint to the investigation, and eventually the conclusion. These should be documented in case of future legal processes. (2)
Talking to your employer about an issue can go a long way, but it is good to be prepared to avoid any legal troubles in the future. It is beneficial to know your rights if you believe a company is violating the law and something needs to be done about it. You need to stick to the facts and write a brief summary of the problem and your recommendation for how it could be resolved.
In a possible discrimination case after taking up a claim, the EEOC and an attorney will certainly be on your side. An EEOC investigator will surely use his or her knowledge to look into your claim and attempt to reach a settlement that works for everyone so that your job is not at risk. In the end, if nothing seems to be moving in the direction you want to see it go, an attorney will help you with your legal employment rights and make a claim in court for penalties. (3)