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Retaliation Claims: 4 Ways to Reduce Your Risks

You just had to reprimand or terminate an employee.

They’re MAD – and threatening to sue, because they claim your actions were in retaliation for their complaints about being harassed or discriminated against at work.

Are you breaking into a cold sweat – or keeping your cool?

Retaliation claims are the leading type of allegations against employers, according to recent statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In 2016 alone, the EEOC received 42,018 retaliation claims – the highest number in any of the past twenty years.

Settlement amounts for these claims are climbing too.  In 2003, the EEOC levied approximately $80 million in fines for retaliation claims against U.S companies. Ten years later, that number had more than doubled to $169 million.

If your organization has sound policies to protect you against retaliation claims (and you follow those policies), you’re doing everything you can to reduce your risks. But if your organization doesn’t follow these basic steps, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to lawsuits or hefty fines:

  1. Create clear performance goals, objectives and standards for employees. Having a clear understanding of their roles, responsibilities and the way their performance is evaluated will naturally make your employees more productive and efficient. In addition, however, documenting those responsibilities, goals and metrics will help you justify an adverse action against an employee who isn’t meeting them.
  2. Review employee performance regularly. Hold formal, annual meetings with each employee to evaluate job performance. Document everything you discuss. Then, provide individuals with a copy of their review and require them to sign it.
  3. Have an employment law expert create a comprehensive anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy for your organization. If you don’t have the expertise in-house, hire outside experts to develop the policy and train your team on how to adhere to it. But don’t stop there. Ensure the document becomes a part of your culture by having organizational leaders model appropriate behavior, integrating training into your onboarding, and providing periodic refreshers for existing employees.
  4. Document with care. Following proper documentation procedures is important for any area of employee performance. If an employee files a retaliation claim against your organization, however, they immediately fall into a protected category – and must be handled with caution. If the individual is performing poorly, you must document every interaction with them regarding the quality of their work, attendance or any other issue that may result in an adverse reaction. This way, it’s less likely that justifiable action on your part isn’t misconstrued as retaliation.

Another way to protect your Middle Tennessee business against retaliation claims?

Use qualified temporary and contract workers from Wood Personnel. When you use contingent staff, our staffing firm is the employer of record for those individuals. Get your work done – and minimize your employment risks – with the help of our Nashville staffing services.