The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission reported that in 2018 there were more than 76,000 claims of workplace discrimination. Of those claims, more than half were for retaliation, discrimination based on race, then sex, disability, and race. The agency also received a 14 percent increase in sexual harassment charges from the previous year.

The Cost of EEOC Complaints

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The EEOC reported it secured more than $500 million for claimants in 2018. Payers included private employers, local, state, and federal employers.

Ever-rising EEOC complaints mean rising costs for employers. These costs, however, aren’t just monetary.  Along with the costs to settle a complaint and legal fees are the time spent compiling documents and speaking to other employees regarding the claim, loss of morale due to the nature of the complaint, and the negative impact on the company’s reputation as an employer.

How To Mitigate EEOC Complaints

Employers must be aware of the protected classes and the types of discrimination claims they face when conducting business. They should also be well-versed in the types of discrimination claims employees could potentially file. They include:

  • Retaliation
  • Age
  • Race
  • Sex
  • Country of Origin
  • Disability

Among the lesser filed claims are color, religion, equal pay, and genetic information.

Retaliation is a type of discrimination in which an employer takes adverse action again an employee for filing a discrimination complaint or becoming involved in an internal investigation against the employer. Adverse includes firing, demotion, job reassignment, disciplinary action, harassment and bullying, and schedule changes.

Employers must have clearly defined policies and procedures in place to reduce the occurrence of EEOC claims. To begin, employers should have a formal complaint process that allows employees to bring issues to the attention of the company without fear of retaliation. A human resources department or an external complaint hotline or regulatory firm are beneficial for this purpose.

Companies should also have written guidelines that illustrate retaliatory behavior and the consequences of such. Companies with human resources departments should utilize HR professionals to create and implement policies to protect the employer and its employees. Managers, supervisors, and employees should be made aware of the company’s policies. Supervisory staff should also undergo training on how to adhere to the policies and handle situations that could result in an EEOC complaint.

Sexual harassment and sensitivity training is helpful to prevent situations where this type of EEOC complaint could happen.

Many companies have annual training to ensure employees are updated on policies and procedures. Employers have the option of utilizing online training modules, in-house training or external organizations to refresh employees’ knowledge of the policies.

Summary

There are things your company can do to protect itself against costly EEOC complaints. Having clearly defined policies and procedures and educating all staff on those policies and procedures is the best way to reduce the chances of a complaint.

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