Not all discrimination claims are crystal clear. Sometimes, employees are treated unfairly, and those situations deserve to be fixed. In such cases, employers may be tempted to settle, offering a small payment along with an agreement that the employee who complained will get additional training or a fair shot at a promotion.
But consider the possible aftermath: What if the employee doesn’t get the promotion she wants or doesn’t do well in the training class? She then may have another go at litigation, and the whole process could start over again.
You may simply be better off paying a little extra and getting the employee to leave and promise never to apply for a job with the company again. That way, the case will be over, once and for all.
Recent case: Domanique Dixon filed a sex, disability and race discrimination complaint against her employer, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). She alleged that when she was written up for sleeping in a break room, the USPS singled her out for discipline.
The USPS settled the complaint with Dixon, paying her $25,000 and promising her training and career development. But no promotions materialized. She sued again, alleging that the Postal Service breached the settlement agreement by not promoting her.
The court dismissed Dixon’s case, reasoning that the agreement didn’t promise a promotion—just training and a shot at promotions. (Dixon v. United States Postal Service, No. 05-CV-01191, DC CO, 2008)
Final note: Despite the dismissal, this case still cost the Postal Service plenty—in time and money spent—on a case it thought was already settled.
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