As we have noted in prior posts, allegations of discrimination can be tough to deal with. They can have a profound effect on an office’s culture and produce a chilling effect on creativity. Discrimination claims can also lead to costly lawsuits and judgments, which can ultimately cripple a business.
Discrimination comes in many forms, but the one that employers should pay close attention to are retaliation claims. Essentially, federal law prohibits employers from firing, harassing, demoting or otherwise retaliating against employees who file a discrimination claim, or participate in an investigation regarding discrimination.
For employers, knowing what discrimination entails is critical because what may begin as an unsubstantiated claim of discrimination may lead to an actionable claim because a manager or supervisor may seek to avenge the original discrimination charge; sometimes in order to teach an insubordinate employee “a lesson.”
Indeed, some managers who have not have sufficient training may believe that they are entitled to “punish” an employee for making allegations that are later proven to be false. While this may seem like an appropriate response, the law is quite the opposite. As we alluded to earlier, the possibility of being terminated can be a powerful influence in discouraging employees from bringing discrimination claims, even though they are actually being treated unfairly.
Because of how serious retaliation claims can be, it is important to discuss the fate of an employee with an experienced employment law attorney so that termination (or the events leading to it) can be properly documented.