Take every internal discrimination complaint seriously—and take quick action, too. Why? If the employee doesn’t think your response was adequate, an EEOC complaint will probably follow. And that can spell big trouble if the EEOC decides to expand its investigation beyond the specifics of the original complaint.
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Employees who believe they have been sexually harassed may initially make only vague complaints about conduct that makes them uncomfortable. Then HR professionals have to decide what course to take. Should you launch a full-scale investigation? Or should you take the complaint at face value and ignore it?
Some employees can’t or won’t acknowledge that they aren’t meeting their employer’s expectations. They ignore negative evaluations, don’t follow through on improvement plans and won’t take direction. You may have no choice but to fire the employee. If you do, don’t worry. Careful documentation will stifle any later lawsuit alleging some form of discrimination.
You may think you have a problem when a single employee complains to the EEOC that he’s been the victim of race discrimination, harassment or some other form of bias. That’s nothing compared to what happens when that one complaint mushrooms into a class-action lawsuit. That can easily happen if harassment involves such flashpoints as hangman’s nooses, racially derogatory comments, racial epithets or graffiti.
As the economy turns the corner, more employees are looking over the fence to see if the grass is greener elsewhere. “For the first time since 2008, we’re seeing more people quitting than being laid off,” Jamie Minier, president of The Right Thing recruiting firm, says. “Employers need to be thinking now about how to create a strategy to recruit.”