What are Retaliation Claims – And How Can You Avoid Them?

As if your company wasn’t facing enough challenges and risks, there’s a new one to worry about – employee retaliation claims. As one of the leading staffing services firms in Houston, Texas, Murray Resources knows these claims are on the rise and, in fact, have increased nearly 70% from 2000 to 2010. What’s worse is that they can have a major impact on workplace morale and productivity.

So what are they – and how can you avoid facing one?

Retaliation is essentially an adverse or vindictive action an employer takes against an employee who’s engaged in a protected activity. For example, firing an employee who is a whistle-blower or who is requesting workers compensation.

Furthermore, a number of court decisions over the past few years have broadened the definition of retaliation. For instance, in one case, an engaged couple worked for the same firm. When the woman filed a discrimination charge against the company, her fiancé was subsequently fired. The Supreme Court ruled it was unlawful for the employer to take adverse action against the fiancé because of his relationship with the woman who filed the discrimination charge.

To help you avoid a retaliation claim, here are 4 tips to keep in mind:

1. Train Your Managers.

Create a written policy prohibiting retaliation, and train your managers on it. Discuss what retaliation is and how they can avoid it.

Also, make sure your managers know how to react if they receive a claim of discrimination or harassment from an employee. Since managers are usually going to be the first person to receive such a claim, it’s critical they know how to properly respond to and resolve the situation…so a retaliation claim doesn’t shortly follow suit.

2. Don’t Make Decisions Based on Emotion.

Anger should not dictate decisions you make about a worker’s employment status. So take a step back, cool down, and think things through before moving forward.

3. Be Consistent With Enforcement.

Once you’ve put rules in place, enforce them. Otherwise, selective enforcement can actually support a claim of retaliation, particularly if enforcement efforts are increased right after a retaliation claim has been filed.

4. Offer Multiple Avenues for Filing Complaints.

If a manager is the source of alleged harassment, an employee is not going to want to turn to him or her to file a complaint. So be sure to offer more than one avenue for filing a complaint. Once the complaint has been received, follow up with the employee to ensure there’s been no adverse actions taken.

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As one of the leading staffing services firms in Houston, Texas, Murray Resources has delivered extraordinary recruiting and staffing solutions to Houston’s leading employers for over 23 years. Contact Murray Resources today to learn more about how we can help you.