The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released the 2016 statistics for discrimination and harassment cases filed for the year, showing an increase for the second consecutive year. Discrimination charges were filed in 91,503 cases (29% being sex based claims). The interesting point here is that the agency responded to over 585,000 calls and more than 160,000 inquiries in field offices. So how did the 745,000 complaints only turn onto 91,503 cases? Well, there were most certainly those complaints that did not meet the legal definition of discrimination or harassment. And then there were the ones that were dismissed due to the fact that the employer met the legal requirement of conducting a prompt and impartial investigation, and took appropriate action to ensure the improper behavior ceased. If one of your employees contacted the EEOC, would your company be one of the dismissed complaints or one of the over 90,000 per year that results in a legal claim?
Many employers still do not understand that when a complaint is received, conducting a proper investigation is your first and best defense. Historically over 50% of claims received by the EEOC are dismissed strictly on the basis of the employer having taken appropriate action. Let’s face it, even if your company did not violate the law, the cost comes in proving that fact. Once the EEOC receives a complaint, if the employer did not investigate the situation properly, the claim progresses toward litigation. And litigation is very costly. Not just in fees, but in company morale, reputation and employee time. This is why you so often hear of companies settling the claims monetarily while insisting that they were not at fault.
In my blog post next week, I will review what happens once the EEOC receives a claim from an employee, and begin examining the process of an employer responding to a claim. We will look at the process when the employer conducted an investigation, and when they did not.
If you have specific points you would like covered or questions you would like answered, please add them in the comment session, and I will do my best to address them.
1.)If an employee is on intermittent FMLA, is it considered discrimination if the supervisor don’t give additional task or opportunity to grow because employee is out once in awhile due to employee’s chronic condition?
2.) Is the thank you card from patient sent to employee considered company property and employee don’t have the right to keep the card?
My apologies for the delay. For some reason this comment just came through. Please note that the following is opinion based on HR experience and should not be considered legal advice. Generally, an employee on FMLA should be provided with the same opportunities as if that employee was not on FMLA. I would suggest talking with your Supervisor about your willingness to take on additional projects and learning opportunities and if this is declined ask for concrete reasons why. Regarding the thank you card, if it was given directly to you, the company may not have right to it. That being said, there may be verbiage to the contrary in company policy, and if that is the case, then they may very well be entitled to the card.
Thank you for your questions. I wish you well in your endeavors.