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A New Year's Resolution for Employers

Want to stay out of trouble with the EEOC? These four tips might keep you on the right path in 2012

Posted by Joe Gerard on December 14th, 2011
2011 was a record year for the EEOC, which received almost 100,000 charges of discrimination and secured more than $364.6 million in relief for complainants. The EEOC is showing employers that they need to take employment laws seriously – or pay the price. The Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) shows that the EEOC made significant improvements in its performance this year, setting the stage for an equally aggressive approach in 2012.

Resolution for 2012

The results of the EEOC’s PAR send a clear message to employers: resolve to take labor laws seriously. Here are four ways you can follow through on your 2012 resolution:

Root Out Systemic Issues

[isight-ad]We can assume that in 2012 the EEOC will continue to crackdown on systemic discrimination in the workplace. A press release from the EEOC about the PAR, reports:

The agency continued to build a strong national systemic enforcement program. At the end of the fiscal year, there were 580 systemic investigations involving more than 2,000 charges under way.  EEOC field legal units filed 261 lawsuits—23 of which involved systemic allegations affecting large numbers of people; 61 had multiple victims (less than 20); and 177 were individual lawsuits.

In some organizations, systemic discrimination happens subconsciously, which isn’t an excuse for letting it happen. Review and monitor policies, practices and your organizational culture.

Use Fair Hiring Practices

Discriminating against job applicants from a protected class is a surefire way to have the EEOC knocking on your door. Asking questions that directly or indirectly solicit information about a candidate’s age, disability, religion, race, colour, gender, marital status, etc, during an interview can be seen as an intent to discriminate. Make sure that job postings are written in a fair manner and don’t bar members from a protected, and even some unprotected, classes from applying.

Terminate Fairly

Not only do employers need to use fair hiring practices, they also need to to avoid wrongful termination lawsuits. A CIO article by Meridith Levinson, “How to Fire People the Right Way,” reports that employers can expect to pay between $50 000 – $250 000 for wrongfully terminating an employee. Make sure you document employee performance and an any instances of misconduct they’re involved in.

Stick to company policies and disciplinary procedures and let the employee know why they are being reprimanded or terminated – don’t leave them guessing, and don’t dance around the truth. If an employee complains about a co-worker harassing them, make sure you investigate the claims before drawing conclusions about terminating the employee.

Take Employee Complaints Seriously

When an employee or group of employees complains about harassment, discrimination or any other type of misconduct, don’t brush them off. If an employee feels like you’re not taking their complaint seriously, they might take it to an outside agency, opening up a whole new can of worms that could have been avoided if you listened to them in the first place.

Joe Gerard
Joe Gerard

CEO, i-Sight

Spend my days showing off the i-Sight investigative case management software and finding ways to help clients improve their investigations. Usually working with corporate security, HR & employee relations, compliance and legal teams.

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