Federal and state laws make it clear that employers cannot discriminate based on protected characteristics. Someone’s sex, medical condition, country of origin, religion or race should not influence whether they get a job, whether they keep a job or how much money they earn for their work.
Discrimination can still impact someone’s daily life and their long-term economic prospects despite laws prohibiting the practice. Workers who believe they have experienced discrimination can potentially take civil action against their employer for a violation of their rights. If the worker is successful, the company could suffer major financial penalties.
How do companies prove that they did not engage in discrimination and defend themselves against worker claims?
Internal policies can help
Many employers have explicit anti-discrimination policies in their employee handbooks. They may also require that every new hire undergo discrimination and harassment training as part of their employment training.
Showing that the company has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and that it actively trains its workers to avoid discrimination can help them defend against claims that they allowed or engaged in discrimination.
Proper documentation is also important
Discrimination claims often arise after a company terminates a worker or after it makes a decision regarding promotions. A worker denied advancement opportunities or who loses their job might claim discrimination lead to that unfavorable outcome.
Businesses can protect themselves from unfounded allegations of discriminatory employment practices by keeping internal human resources records regarding all major decisions. A written record explaining what qualifications they considered for promotion or what infractions an employee committed prior to their termination could help justify their employment decisions.
Understanding how to protect against an employment discrimination claim can help a business proactively defend itself and also appropriately respond to claims by current and former workers.