Category Personnel/Employment
Title The U.S. Supreme Court and Employment Retaliation
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The U.S. Supreme Court and Employment Retaliation

With the Supreme Court taking a broad stance on employment retaliation, employers should take the following steps after an employee has filed a discrimination, harassment, or safety complaint in order to protect the company from the additional threat of retaliation charge.

  • Avoid knee-jerk reactions. An aggressive reaction to a complaint could be seen as retaliatory in nature. Treat complaints as an opportunity to correct mistakes and avoid liability, and not to automatically consider the employee as a troublemaker.
  • Prevent further incidents of mistreatment. You must be evenhanded when separating employees who are at odds. Be careful not to penalize the complainant.
  • Implement your organization's system for receiving and investigating complaints.
  • Keep the investigation focused on the complaint, and avoid getting sidetracked by the complainant's performance. Even if your investigation reveals shortcomings in the employee's performance, keep the investigation centered on the allegations at hand. Deal with the performance problems separately.
  • Orally review the entire complaint and your organization's retaliation policies with employees and subordinates when a complaint is filed, when an investigation is concluded, and as often as needed in between.
  • Don't punish an employee who files an unfounded complaint or grievance. Remember that even if an employee's complaint is groundless, if it was filed in good faith, he/she could still be protected against retaliation.

Reprinted with permission from Employment Law Today, © Alexander Hamilton Institute, Inc.,
70 Hilltop Road, Ramsey, NJ 07446; www.legalworkplace.com.

LLU 19.2

Notice: This article is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It has been provided to member schools with the understanding that ACSI is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, tax, or other professional services. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services or a competent professional should be sought. Laws vary by jurisdiction, and the specific application of laws to particular facts requires the advice of an attorney.

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