As most of you know, any of your employees (or former employees) can file a discrimination charge with the EEOC or KHRC alleging your company discriminated against them on the basis of any (or several) protected classifications under the various statutes like the ADA or Title VII. When a charge is filed, the employer will almost always be required to respond to the agency and provide a variety of supporting materials and/or materials requested by the agency. These investigations also frequently involve the agency sending an investigator to your workplace to interview witnesses (managers and co-workers of the complaining party). This process can be time consuming for employers and serve as a distraction from the normal course of business for the employer. The best defense to a discrimination charge is to exercise good preventive medicine.
Over the next few weeks, check back for a series of posts highlighting some good preventive measures an employer can take to avoid a discrimination charge. And even if these measures don't prevent a charge, following some or all of them will make defending the charge a much easier task.
So let's get started.
The first line of defense revolves around employer policies. Every employer should implement EEO-related policies and procedures. The basic EEO policy should reinforce the employer's commitment to equal employment opportunity and to making employment-related decisions without considering protected classification information. In addition to an EEO policy, employers should also have a policy related to harassment issues. The anti-harassment policy should cover sexual harassment and other forms of harassment based on protected classifications. It is also a good idea to require employees to sign a confirmation that they received a copy of, and understand, the EEO and anti-harassment policies. These acknowledgements will be useful down the road if a discrimination charge is filed.
Stay tuned for more installments over the next week or two.