In California, the current employment landscape has placed employers on the defensive. While it is undoubtedly positive that employees who are subjected to workplace discrimination and harassment are increasingly free to voice their complaints about how they have been treated, it does not automatically mean the allegations are true. Nor does it mean that the accusations have reached the level at which business litigation is necessary or viable. From the employer’s perspective, it is imperative to understand how to craft a defense if the employee continues to make these claims and escalates them to the point of filing a case. Of critical importance is responding to the claim appropriately as it is reported. This benefits the workplace and protects the employer.
What employers should do if they receive an employment complaint
Employers should have a way for employees to lodge their complaints about discrimination and harassment. First, it should be assessed to determine the scope of the investigation. If it is a criminal act, then contacting law enforcement is advisable. For lower-level cases in which an employee says that a colleague is making him or her uncomfortable with alleged discriminatory or harassing behaviors like untoward comments, lewdness and aggressiveness, then it should be investigated internally. For transgressions that would cost someone employment, it is especially crucial to be thorough and fair. Those who are wrongfully dismissed for untrue accusations might also end up considering legal action.
Due process is a term that is generally used in criminal law, but it is applicable in an employment setting too. It simply means that there should be a fair investigation to try and find out exactly what happened to the best of the employer’s ability. That includes taking statements from those involved as well as people who might have been witnesses. This can be helpful with formulating a reasonable conclusion, seeing if the allegations are true, overblown or outright false and deciding how to proceed with sanctions whether that includes penalties or termination. In some instances, an independent investigator could be useful.
Having professional representation can be vital with business law
Social media, the news media and legislators are taking employment violations seriously. That, however, does not mean that simply because a story has been told repeatedly and sounds plausible that it is true. On a similar note, employers who have taken the proper steps to address the issue but are still facing potential legal ramifications should be cognizant of their rights. Business litigation can be costly in myriad ways. This goes beyond the financial outlay and extends to its reputation and ability to grow. From the start, adhering to the requirements of handling reports of harassment is key. So too is it wise to have professional guidance with combating the allegations and seeking a positive outcome.