Employers that have anti-harassment policies and clearly communicate them already have a leg up. But the real winners are employers that also carefully track every harassment complaint.
They increase their odds of winning harassment cases because they can show whether an employee complained about behavior when it happened.
Here’s how it makes a difference: Suppose an employee who has been discharged “suddenly” remembers past harassment and sues. If you can show he hadn’t complained before, chances are the court will toss the case.
Recent case: When Hector Sanchez was fired for insubordination, he sued, claiming he had been forced for years to work in a hostile environment. He said his Cuban boss was biased against people from the Dominican Republic such as Sanchez. Altogether, he remembered six comments over six years.
But Sanchez had never complained. The case was dismissed. (Sanchez v. Sungard, No. 06-3660, DC NJ, 2009)
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- NJLAD only covers employees who work in N.J.
- Litigious worker criticizes company? You may be able to fire
- Seek Written OK for Internal-Complaint Resolutions
- Have a progressive-discipline system? Great! But reserve right to fire immediately if necessary
- Keep consistent records of all disciplinary actions