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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported it obtained a record $372.1 million in monetary relief for victims of private sector employment discrimination in year ending 2013. This amount is nearly seven million more than was recovered in 2012 and is the highest amount of financial compensation ever recovered in the agency’s history.
The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination, and obtains monetary and non-monetary compensation for individuals who have been discriminated against by employers through:
• Administrative enforcement
• Conciliations (alternative dispute resolution)
What this means for employers
While according to its report, the EEOC received 14,000 fewer filings the fact that they recovered the record amounts this past year may not bode well for employers. In our politically correct society, discrimination can be construed by what most people may consider minor incidents. And unfortunately, with each passing day more regulations, laws and rules are passed that make ordinary behavior something sinister or questionable. More than ever, employers must remain ever vigilant in their awareness of and compliance to the new rules.
In order to protect your company from unnecessary complaints you should:
• Always give honest employee evaluations. Employees with the responsibility of providing evaluations must do so honestly and resist the urge to ‘be nice’ because they do not want to hurt someone’s feelings. If a complaint should arise for poor work performance, the employee evaluations should back that statement up by showing that it was drawn from honest employee evaluations.
• Provide anti-discrimination/harassment training. Your anti-discrimination policies must be clearly written and disseminated to all employees. And you must take e reasonable steps to ensure everyone from management to entry level employees know, understand and can use the complaint process. Annual or bi-annual training on these matters can help achieve this end.
• Do not allow retaliation. When one employee complains about another it is natural for the accused employee to want to retaliate against the accuser. You must not tolerate this for any reason. Conduct a non-biased investigation and do everything possible to rectify the matter without letting it get out of hand with warring employees escalating the situation.
• Be fair and consistent. You will open your company up to scrutiny and liability if you treat one employee differently from another. Your policies should treat all employees fairly and consistently.
Talk to an experienced NY employment law attorney about employee disputes
Running a business and keeping your staff happy and productive can be a formidable task. However, it goes with the territory of having a successful business. An experienced attorney can help you develop company policies that will help provide a safe and productive work environment for your employees and protect you from the risk of litigation. For more information about how an employment law attorney can help you with employee disputes or any other business matter, contact us online today.