Six Steps to Avoid Retaliation Claims


According to HR Daily Advisor, retaliation suits are the "dumbest of the dumb" because they are so easily avoided but they happen with startling frequency! Here are some tips from Attorney Joan S. Farrell:

1. Have a written policy. As the backbone of your entire program, initiate a policy prohibiting retaliation.

2. Provide training.  Just having a policy isn’t enough.  Provide training to supervisors and managers about what retaliation consists of and how to avoid it. Basically, retaliation is any action that would dissuade a reasonable worker from engaging in protected activity.

3. Don’t’ terminate employees when you’re “fired up”.  Managers and supervisors need to understand that anger should not dictate employment decisions. Managers need to do whatever it takes to cool down and stay cool.  Part of their job is to act responsibly and professionally, even in the face of false accusations.

4. Clarify protocols for supervisors.  Provide training and refreshers so supervisors know how to react when they receive a complaint from an employee.  A supervisor typically is the first person to receive harassment complaints from employees and his or her response is critical in resolving and defending workplace discrimination claims.

5. Apply policies and practices consistently.  Selective enforcement of policies can support a claim of discrimination and retaliation, especially if enforcement is stepped up right after an employee files a complaint.  If an employer departs from its usually policy or practice, the legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for the exception should be documented.

6. Publish your complaint reporting procedure.  Post them conspicuously and encourage employees to report any retaliation using the same complaint procedure.

If you are interested in an in-depth discussion on these topics or if you need assistance in the above-mentioned areas, please contact HR Advisors.