Q. We're afraid that one of our employees may have been subjected to discriminatory behavior. But she hasn't filed a complaint. What should we do? Do we have an obligation to bring it up and investigate, even if she declines? —S.P., Louisiana
A. Here's the golden rule on suspected discrimination: investigate, don't litigate. Courts have said that you're required to launch an investigation whenever you know, or reasonably should have known, of workplace harassment. This means you can't turn a blind eye to discriminatory behavior and rely on the “she didn't tell us about it” defense. Nor can you defend yourself by asserting that the victim didn't want you to investigate.
Remember: Investigations are a key factor for minimizing liability.
- After employee files internal complaint, beware retaliation, correct problems ASAP
- 'Last straw' needn't be egregious to justify firing
- Beware bias claims if pay cuts are looming
- Beware firing for 'spreading rumors' about bias
- Beware relying on arbitration agreements: They're California courts' pet peeves