Ideally, employees would be free to go to work and perform their duties without fear of discrimination. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Employee discrimination is common in many workplaces and it can severely impact one’s performance.
A person can face discrimination for many reasons. Some people are discriminated against because of their age or religious beliefs. Many are harassed because of their race. Some women see discrimination when they are in workplaces filled with men.
As an employer, you will likely receive complaints about discrimination from employees, and you must take these seriously. If you ignore these complaints, the employee can file a complaint and even sue you. Because of this, it is important to have set procedures in place to handle these issues. Here is how to effectively handle discrimination complaints in the workplace.
Steps for Handling Discrimination
Once you, as an employer, become aware of a situation involving discrimination, you should take swift action. Here is what to do next:
- Gather information. Talk to the victim about the situation. Let him or her describe what happened and get as many facts as possible. Gather evidence, such as emails and notes. Ask about possible witnesses.
- Get witness statements. Witnesses can help corroborate a discrimination claim. If a co-worker overheard the discriminatory remark, then that would be strong evidence in favor of the complainant.
- Speak to the accused. It is important to also speak to the person who is being blamed. Sometimes there are misunderstandings, and the accused may have thought of the remarks as teasing, while the complainant took the remarks more seriously. There is also the possibility that the complainant is making things up, so it is important to hear the accused’s side of the story.
- Take action. If it is clear that the accused did engage in discrimination or other inappropriate conduct, then it is important to take action. The action you should take will depend on factors such as the employee’s record, any past offenses, the severity of the action and what the company has done in the past to handle similar issues. Punishment may include anything from additional training all the way to termination. If it is not clear that any wrongdoing took place, it is important to ensure that employees know that discrimination will not be tolerated.
- Document everything. It is a good idea to have clear, organized documentation of evidence, interviews and everything else involved in the discrimination investigation. If the case goes to court, you will have the evidence to show that you took the appropriate steps and did not simply ignore the matter.
- Follow up. No matter the outcome, make sure you follow up with the complainant. Let them know if any action was taken. If none was taken, let them know why. If they uncover further evidence, they should let you know so you can take further action.
Contact a New York Employment Law Attorney
Employee discrimination issues should be taken seriously and handled with care. Every company should have procedures in place to ensure discrimination is handled appropriately.
If you are facing a discrimination case, the employment law attorneys at Ricotta & Marks, P.C. can help you understand your next steps. Schedule a free consultation today by filling out the online form or calling (347) 727-0661.