No matter how compliant and good intentioned a company may be with its legal obligations, it does not eliminate the possibility that a disgruntled employee will file a discrimination claim against the company. It is important to rationally approach the situation and the following steps are recommended to minimize the company’s exposure.
- First and foremost, the company should create an organized response with a single person in charge of overseeing the response.
- It is critical to immediately identify all relative documents whether those are paper or digital. Once these documents have been identified, the company should make sure they are secured and preserved for future use.
- Under no circumstances should the company take any action against the employee if that employee is still currently with the company. The law prohibits retaliating against employees who have engaged in protected activity. The worst thing the company can do is to take what might have been a meritless claim and turn it into a real problem by retaliating against the employee.
- The company should also check to see if it has employment practices liability insurance. If so, a timely claim should be filed. If the policy allows the company to select its own attorneys, it should do so as soon as possible.
If the company does not have insurance, it should immediately obtain experienced counsel to help it through the process. There are many nuances in defending employment claims that an unexperienced attorney or lay person will not have the necessary expertise to handle appropriately.
- Finally, it is important to insulate the claim as much as possible from the workforce. Steps should be taken to make sure that communications regarding the claim be privileged and confidential. The matter should not be openly discussed in front of other coworkers unless they are witnesses and have a meaningful need to participate in the defense.