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Handling an employee’s discrimination complaint: 2 crucial steps

Employers strive to cultivate a fair and inclusive work environment for all their employees. However, even with the best intentions, situations can arise where an employee feels discriminated against based on a protected characteristic like race, gender or disability.

Unfortunately, even unfounded accusations can disrupt your business and cause employee morale to plummet. Your actions in the initial stages can significantly impact the outcome.

Here are two crucial steps for employers to take after receiving a formal discrimination complaint.

Launch a thorough investigation

Employers must take all allegations of workplace discrimination seriously. You should initiate a prompt investigation if the allegations involve another employee, including a manager or supervisor.

However, remember that impartiality is vital to your side of the case. If you are named in the complaint, handing the matter to a neutral party (human resources or even someone outside the company) may be wisest. A manager should never handle an investigation about their own alleged misconduct.

A comprehensive investigation involves:

  • Interviewing the involved parties
  • Speaking with potential witnesses
  • Gathering relevant documents (prior reports, etc.)

A meticulous approach helps ensure that you overlook nothing that may strengthen your position.

Make sure you have experienced guidance

Do not underestimate the seriousness of an occupational discrimination claim. A negative outcome might lead to substantial financial hardships for your company and tarnish its reputation. Potential consequences include paying monetary damages, reinstating or promoting the employee (if applicable) and court-ordered injunctions.

Having experienced legal guidance can empower you to navigate this complex situation, determine potential defenses and help protect the company’s rights and interests.