Successfully Handling Employee Discrimination Complaints

If a person is not treated fairly at work, it can lead to unhappiness and a lack of productivity. An employer should not discriminate against an employee based on race, gender, age, disability, or any other protected characteristic. Discrimination can take many forms, from outright negative treatment to the subtle exclusion of an employee from the workplace.


Employee discrimination complaints are a serious and sensitive matter. They can cause immense damage to an employee, the employer, and the organization if mishandled. If the complaint is found to be true, the employer could be held liable for financial damages, while if found to be false, the employee might be out of a job. If a complaint arises, it should be handled responsibly and objectively through a systematic approach.


Here are a few basic rules to follow if you receive a complaint of discrimination in the workplace.


Keep An Open Mind

Employers can be quick to jump to conclusions when someone makes a complaint about discrimination, harassment, or another workplace issue. They might instead choose to disbelieve the allegations and continue to investigate for themselves. Sadly, this often leads to a failure to address the problem, and those who are the victims of discrimination, harassment, and other workplace issues suffer in silence. 


Acknowledge The Allegations Carefully

When employees complain of discrimination, most employers assume the complaint is not real and try to play them off. But, if you have taken the time to read the allegations carefully, you may have a legitimate concern. Once you have investigated the situation and understand the situation from both sides, you can help the employee who is experiencing discrimination and achieve the best results possible.


Treat The Complainer With Respect

Complaining about things may seem like a very negative thing to do; however, with the right attitude and a bit of respect, taking time to discuss bad or unfair treatment can be a positive thing. Complaining can be very powerful; however, it can be expressed in a way that is not only constructive but also respectful. A culture of treating complainers with disrespect and disinterest can lead to a climate in which employees are less likely to complain about mistreatment. 


Don’t Retaliate

To retaliate is to take retaliatory action against someone who has complained about discrimination or harassment. In these cases, it is against the law for an employer to punish someone for doing so (and for a public employer, it is against the law to retaliate against someone who complained about discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC]). The most obvious forms of retaliation are discipline, termination, demotion, pay cuts, or threats to do any of these things.


Take Appropriate Action 

Once you are one with the investigation and have gathered all the relevant information available, take appropriate disciplinary action against the wrongdoer.


Final Words


Discrimination can be difficult to detect, and it is often unintentional – but that doesn’t make it any less harmful. Caused by fear and misunderstanding, discrimination can cause a number of problems. It can cause people to feel like they can’t do anything right, it can deprive them of opportunities and make them feel like they aren’t as good as others. It can cause people to lose confidence in themselves, and it can have serious health effects.

Having a policy, providing training, and taking prompt, appropriate action can help minimize the legal and financial risks associated with allegations of workplace discrimination. To learn more about protecting the employees, and the company, from workplace discrimination, attend the Compliance Prime webinar.

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