We spend a great deal of our lives at our workplace. Everyone wants to work in an environment where they feel included and valued. In this ever-changing society, it has become more complicated for employers to provide the perfect work culture environment, and still tend to the bottom line of keeping the company’s doors open. Sometimes, an employee will feel he/she is being discriminated against and file a complaint against you with the EEOC.
The best plan is a preventive one, where employers use rock-solid guidelines to prevent discrimination in any form. If you become the target of a discrimination lawsuit, the team at Hackler Flynn & Associates is standing ready to assist you in fighting the lawsuit.
The Numbers of Discrimination Lawsuits Continue to Grow
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the number of employment discrimination charges reached 67,448 in the fiscal year of 2020. Combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of terminated employees saw a significant increase in recent years, and the resulting recession has made life difficult for many workers. Because of this, EEOC increased its budget for enforcement, and there were a number of employee-friendly revisions to the law. If you are facing an EEOC lawsuit, the agency has the proper protocol for you to take to resolve it.
Employees Are Suing For What?
The numbers below are taken from the EEOC findings in 2020. We can only imagine that they have risen in the following years as increasing attention has been put on social issues including transgender sexual harassment cases and the #MeToo movement across all industries, from breweries to media companies.
- Retaliation discrimination (the highest cited form of employment discrimination): 37,632 charges brought against employers in 2020
- Disability discrimination: 24,324 charges
- Race discrimination: 22,064 charges
- Sex discrimination: 21,398 charges
- Age discrimination
- National origin discrimination
- Color discrimination
- Religion discrimination
These discrimination lawsuits resulted in the EEOC securing more than $439.2 million in monetary benefits from former employees, which is a record for the agency.
For an employer, the monetary award can be devastating, but that is not the only cost to consider. Getting slapped with an EEOC discrimination lawsuit can also mean the cost of:
- Distraction to you and your staff as you work through the tedious paperwork to respond to the lawsuit
- Loss of productive staff time as the investigation runs its course, which can take months
- Loss of employee morale as the lawsuit progresses
- Loss of company reputation, which can impact the future employees you can attract
- Loss of company reputation to your shareholders and customers
- Attorney fees if found guilty
The numbers vary widely, but in general jury awards are expensive for employers. Studies show costs range from $250,000 to $900,000.
Sounds Dismal: Help!
Employers are not without rights as well. By law, an employee who feels he/she is being discriminated against should first file a complaint with the employer. This gives the business owner the opportunity to look into the complaint and discuss the next steps with the employee, through the normal complaint resolution process. If after that process is followed through, and the employee does not feel the grievance has been addressed, then the employee can file a formal complaint with the EEOC. It is interesting to note that in recent years, 95,402 charges were filed with the EEOC, and yet the agency only filed 325 lawsuits.
How Can I Protect My Business From Discrimination Lawsuits?
The most important step in protecting your business is having strong measures and policies in place and making sure they are communicated to all employees. It includes:
- Strict policies that make discrimination of any kind unacceptable;
- Improve HR communications;
- Effectively train your managers on the company’s policies so they can recognize signs of discrimination, which could include harassment, retaliation, bullying, and potential violence;
- Provide mandatory employee training as outlined under SB1343 (the DFEH provides a free anti-sexual harassment training course);
- Set a good example: create a discrimination-free work environment
- Have a “Paper Trail” to make sure you have good documentation should you need it in the future
If you need assistance with anti-discrimination laws or workplace misconduct, contact Hackler Flynn & Associates.
DISCLAIMER: Content within this post should not be considered legal advice and is for informational purposes only. Communications made through this post do not create an attorney-client relationship. Hackler Flynn & Associates is not responsible for any content that you may access from third-party resources that may be accessed through or linked to this post. Hackler Flynn & Associates is only licensed to practice in California.
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