How NOT TO HANDLE a Racial Harassment Claim
Recently our local newspaper ran a front page story about a company
which settled a racial harassment/discrimination claim with the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In the article,
it explained how an African American employee had complained to
management on several occasions about the racial harassment he
was experiencing in the workplace. Management did nothing to follow
up on the charge and tried to “sweep it under the rug”.
In frustration, the employee went to the EEOC to file a charge.
In retaliation for filing the charge with the EEOC, the employer
fired the complaining employee.
The EEOC investigated and found that the charge had merit. Rather
than going to trial, the company decided to settle the charge for
$40,000. They were also required to follow the terms of a multi-year
consent decree. The decree required the employer hold anti-discrimination
training at its facilities and prohibited the company from participating
in future acts of racial discrimination. The company was required
to post notices of the settlement at the factory while also implementing
anti-discrimination policies that ban such acts.
Generally when companies find themselves in this type of situation,
they have done several things wrong. These issues can be prevented
entirely with the implementation of a few basic Human Resources
practices. All companies should have standard policies and procedures
along with an employee handbook which makes it clear that harassment/discrimination
against anyone is both illegal and against company policy. If a
complaint is received from an employee, it must be thoroughly investigated
as soon as possible and corrective measures taken to insure that
the inappropriate actions cease immediately and that absolutely
no retaliation occurs against the complaining individual. Companies
should also implement yearly training programs for both employees
and Managers to insure that everyone understands the seriousness
of these issues as well as their own individual rights and responsibilities.
None of this is rocket science, it is basic HR 101.
Paul Hilton Human Resources Consulting works with our clients to insure that all required documentation is correct and sufficient to successfully defend against a claim to any unemployment compensation commission.
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