I recently attended an employment law seminar in St. Paul, Minnesota. One key topic that kept resurfacing in the sessions I attended was RETALIATION. Title VII retaliation claims have increased19% from 2006.
An employer retaliates when it makes an adverse employment decision which tends to discourage an employee from engaging in protected conduct. What is an adverse employment decision? Although not clearly defined, the Supreme Court has made it clear that it is not necessarily have to be a tangible employment decision, such as termination. What is protected conduct? Whistleblowing, filing a complaint, taking FMLA leave or making a worker’s compensation claim are all examples of protected conduct.
What should employers do to minimize retaliation claims?
- Have a clear policy prohibiting retaliation;
- Educate managers and supervisors about retaliation;
- Enforce policies consistently for all;
- Refrain from making hasty decisions when employees have engaged in protected activity in the recent past even if you believe the decision is warranted;
- Investigate all retaliation claims and discipline those who have engaged in retaliation. Inform the employee alleging retaliation of your findings and whether any disciplinary action will take place;