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Retaliation: Don't target employees who come forward.

The intro to discrimination course, taught by Professor Friedman at Tulane had to be one of the best classes I've ever taken in my Labor and Employment Masters program. Why? Well when dealing with employment law it's imperative that you aren't intuitive when handling , but to know the law. Having this ability protects the employer as well as the employee. When we covered Anti-retaliation as it relates to an employee who is involved in a protected conduct like an EEOC claim or even a lawsuit my ears were glued to the lecture.


In my 18+ years of working in the HR field I always knew when people were terminated after coming forward that it was something sketchy about it, but I just could not figure out why. Morally, the thought is " that's wrong to fire them because they came forward", but people in management are pretty cunning when it comes to covering it up. It's often times presented like a performance issue or attendance issue. The manager has never written the employee up for a performance issue in the past, then all of a sudden after they realize that the employee has come forward in support of a claim in discrimination of some sort. The perfect employee now becomes problematic and a poor performer.


As an HR professional, knowing the law as it pertains to Anti Retaliation is paramount. When an EEOC claim has been filed or a claim that has been identified as Title VII related, an employee is protected under two categories: Participation and Opposition.


The participation category grants the employee immunity. They can not be terminated because of participating in a claim or lawsuit. They can however be terminated for cause, not related to discrimination like absenteeism or performance.


Opposition is when the employee opposes something that the employer is doing that is Title VII related like speaking up about women not being treated fairly at the company, or if they talked to the newspaper or a friend regarding a topic related to Title VII. So, how do you stop it as an HR professional? Look at the historical actions of the manager and the employee. Has the manager written the employee up in the past 12 months or in general for performance or quality? If the employee all of a sudden begins to collect attendance points, question it! Then verify that "all" employees in the department are in fact being held to the same standards.


Most often HR representatives will turn a blind eye to retaliatory behavior because the offense is justifiable by the handbook rules. However, a "red flag" is the abruptness to take action on the employee. Stopping this behavior in its tracks will save the company thousands, sometimes even millions. It will also protect the employees livelihood and job. As you traverse through all of the legal jargon and theories in the MJ-LEL program, remember who and what the HR representative is, a protector of the company and an advocate for all people.


Don't target employee who come forward © 2022 by Talisha Williams Crooks is licensed underAttribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International

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