Quick fix to discriminatory act may help thwart your legal liability — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Quick fix to discriminatory act may help thwart your legal liability

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If your organization realizes that it made a mistake in failing to hire a member of a protected class (female, minority, disabled, etc.), it’s best to fix the problem as soon as possible and make a job offer. Chances are that will end your liability.

The key is not to try to cover up an error. For example, if you receive a complaint about a discriminatory act by a manager and your investigation concludes that it occurred, correct the error right away. As many a political scandal has shown, the cover-up is usually more damaging than the initial mistake.

Recent case: Joao Godoy, who is Latin American, applied for a job as a firefighter with Habersham County and took the pre-employment test. He wasn’t hired, but he heard that someone might have manipulated the scores.

After he complained to the EEOC, the county offered him the job. Total time from initial rejection to hire: 10 days.

Godoy sued anyway, alleging discrimination. The court dismissed his complaint, noting that the county quickly reversed its decision. A mere 10-day delay wasn’t enough to create liability. (Godoy v. Habersham County, No. 06-11946, 11th Cir., 2006)

Final tip: An even better approach: The county could have enlisted the EEOC’s help. The agency could have brokered an agreement between the parties that included a promise not to sue.

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