Smart employers respond to every harassment and discrimination complaint and follow up even if they believe there was nothing to the complaint. But some employers ignore this simple advice and choose to blow off employee complaints instead of logging them, investigating and making a determination about what happened. That’s a huge mistake.
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Have you had an employee who always tries to see how far he can stretch workplace rules? You know the type—he takes all breaks, arrives just before he’s technically late and never volunteers for the tough tasks. That guy might not be the best choice to promote into a job that requires following strict rules.
The New Jersey Supreme Court has handed disgruntled employees a big weapon to use against their employers. The court ruled that Joyce Quinlan was within her rights to photocopy company documents—some of which were confidential—to use in a lawsuit against Curtiss-Wright, the aerospace company where she once served as executive director of human resources.
It happens: A supervisor wants to discipline an employee, but HR or upper management nixes the idea because it knows something the boss doesn’t. Perhaps the employee had suffered discrimination in the past and was placed in a new position for a fresh start. Be prepared for legal fallout if you wind up disciplining the supervisor.
If an internal investigation reveals that the employee whose complaint launched the process was also engaged in improper behavior (or was, in fact, the person to blame for the situation), don’t hesitate to punish appropriately. As long as you act in good faith, a court is unlikely to conclude the punishment was retaliation for complaining in the first place.