Employers are usually cognizant of discrimination and harassment claims. However, they are often blindsided by retaliation claims. The successful resolution of a discrimination or harassment complaint means you are only halfway home. Supervisors and employees must not retaliate against the employee who complained. This is even more important now because of a recent United States Supreme Court decision lowering the burden for employees to show retaliation.
Here are some proactive measures employers can take in order to avoid retaliation claims:
1) Make sure your employee handbook includes a policy prohibiting retaliation.
2) Always have alternative reporting avenues.
3) Conduct supervisor and management training on harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
4) Make sure supervisors and management have been asked the tough questions when it comes to employee discipline. Make sure the discipline has nothing to do with the complaints of harassment, discrimination or retaliation.
5) Periodically talk with the complaining employee to determine if anyone has retaliated against them. If performance is an issue for the employee be sure to bring this to the attention of the employee and make sure to document your conversations. Document! Document! Document!
Be sure to consult your employment lawyer for advice in specific situations.