Last January, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that in 2016, there were over 84,000 workplace discrimination charges filed against employers across the nation. According to the data, 48.8% of all charges filed were for retaliation, followed by race discrimination (33.9%) and disability discrimination (31.9%). The EEOC subsequently obtained $398 million for these alleged victims through litigation and voluntary resolutions.

That’s a lot of money – enough to alarm any business owner. But employers who implement strong measures to address and prevent workplace retaliation, stand an improved chance of avoiding these demoralizing charges and costly lawsuits.

Below are four recommended ways of minimizing the risk of employment litigation.

  1. Implement a strict anti-discrimination policy in the workplace.

All Connecticut businesses with employees should develop a strict policy that addresses discrimination, retaliation, and harassment and include it in the company’s employee handbook. Recommended contents include:

  • A process for reporting policy violations to the company.
  • A complete description of how complaints will be handled, making it clear that disciplinary action will be taken with confirmed offenders.
  • An appeal process for employees who are not satisfied with the way their complaint was handled.

Once the policy is created, it’s time to make managers and employees aware of the contents and what they mean for everyone at the company.

  1. Train all managers on the policy’s particulars and expectations.

Managers are responsible for creating a positive and harassment-free work environment. Therefore, they need a clear understanding of both the policy and how to apply it in order to make informed decisions if a situation arises. The goal of a retaliation-free workplace should also be integral to employee reviews and performance development.

  1. Train all employees on their responsibilities and rights under the policy.

Employees also have a role to play in keeping the workplace harassment and discrimination-free. An updated handbook – that has been reviewed by both Human Resources and a qualified Connecticut employment attorney – can inform employees about the prohibited conduct and the penalties for a violation of the policy. Employers should also consider online training services that require the employee to confirm in writing that he or she understands both the policy and complaint process.

  1. Respond quickly and appropriately to employee complaints.

All complaints about discrimination, harassment, or other illegal actions should receive a quick response and be investigated in accordance with the published policy. Every complaint should be treated with the same level of attention and diligence all the way to appeal (if it comes to that).

When employers document all aspects and stages of policy training, manager and employee preventative training, and complaint investigation, they are showing a care and initiative that can prevent a hostile work environment and protect them if a situation advances to litigation. Legal counsel and guidance from a Connecticut employment law attorney will also act as a safeguard, especially if things escalate. Monarch Law is here to serve the needs of employers throughout the state, so please contact us today.