The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) recently reported that it received a record number of claims from employees in 2010 – nearly 100,000 new claims. Retaliation claims are the most frequently filed, but disability discrimination claims are on the rise, increasing by nearly 20% in 2010, and sex discrimination and religious discrimination cases continue to increase as well. Not surprisingly, the EEOC reports that the cost to employers of resolving these claims also continues to increase.
There are five key strategies to eliminate claims of discrimination and harassment:
- Invest heavily in management training. Train all your managers annually in employment law basics, communication skills, and how to treat employees with respect.
- Review all your management practices. Focus on hiring, promotion, discipline, layoffs/termination, performance appraisals and documentation.Make sure they do not contain any discriminatory practices.
- Have a broad anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy. The courts and the EEOC interpret having no policy negatively. Include a complaint procedure, language discouraging inappropriate behavior, language alerting employees that all employees should file claims promptly, and a process to protect employees and witnesses from any retaliation.
- Follow your state law guidelines. Multi-state employers must know all state laws to ensure compliance.
- Zero tolerance. Be emphatic to everyone that harassment and discrimination of any kind will never be tolerated.
Organizations that train and educate their workforce and foster a culture of respect, rarely have claims brought against them.