Accusations of discrimination have the potential to severely damage your company’s reputation, morale and finances. Unfortunately, despite your best efforts to prevent these types of claims, your business may fall subject to one or several over the course of its lifetime. Though many people make these types of claims in complete sincerity, it is not unheard of for disgruntled persons to lodge false accusations at current or previous employers.
The best thing you can do in the face of false discrimination claims is to have processes in place for dealing with them as quickly and efficiently as possible. Per Chron Small Business, these processes should include robust legal representation and a well-structured investigation.
Take each report seriously
The worst thing you can do is to brush off complaints as invalid because you “did everything right.” Ignoring complaints, or not treating them with the respect they deserve (meaning you take the time to consult with the complainant, perform a thorough investigation and consult with a lawyer), will not make the matter disappear. Rather, it may only make it worse.
Do not retaliate
The second worst thing you can do upon receiving a discrimination claim from a disgruntled employee is to punish him or her. Despite how upset you may become, do not suspend, demote or terminate an employee who makes an accusation against your company. Doing so may only result in a federal law violation, which the courts would deem valid even if the initial complaint is not.
Not only should you not retaliate against the complainant but also, you should take measures to protect him or her during the investigation process. This may mean reassigning him or her to a different department, changing his or her schedule or doing whatever is necessary to prevent interaction between the claimant and target of the complaint.
Order a complete and impartial investigation
You have a responsibility, as a business owner, to investigate any claims your HR department receives. To prevent bias from clouding the investigator’s judgment, consider hiring a third-party firm. Doing so can prevent further dispute if the investigation turns out in your favor.
Work with an attorney
If you feel that an employee fabricated a discrimination claim, the best thing you can do is to seek legal advice from an experienced lawyer. An attorney can advise you on what to do next and what measures you can take to protect your company against further allegations.