The two key points to remember during a workplace investigation

by on May 4, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Documentation is key during employee complaints investigations

If your company has been the target of an EEOC workplace investigation for employee complaints, you may have breathed a sigh of relief when you received a copy of the employee’s “right to sue” letter.

It means the EEOC doesn’t think the case is strong enough for it to get involved, and it’s up to the employee to pursue things.

Often, they don’t.

But if you get such a letter, make sure you not only keep it, but make careful note of when you received it.

That’s the lesson from a recent case in Louisiana. A federal court threw an employee’s
discrimination lawsuit out, saying she waited too long to sue after getting her right-to-sue letter following the employee complaints investigation by EEOC.

But an appeals court let the suit stand. Why?

NO EVIDENCE OF MAILING

There was no evidence the EEOC ever sent the letter to the employee’s attorney after the workplace investigation. And although the employer’s HR department supposedly got a copy, it couldn’t prove it with, say, a postmarked envelope or mail log.

Cite: Duron v. Albertson’s LLC, No. 07-30290, 5th Cir., 2/17/09.

Don’t retaliate for helping workplace investigations

Employee complaint investigations are protected

If you aren’t already treating people who report discrimination very, very carefully, you’d better start. The Supreme Court has just made its fourth major decision on retaliation since 2006 – and once again ruled for an employee and against an employer

WHAT’S ‘OPPOSITION’?

The issue this time: Are employees who don’t draw discrimination to your attention, but rather answer questions about it in during internal workplace investigations, protected against retaliation? The court said they are. This means employees suing for retaliation will find it easier to show they “opposed” a discriminatory practice, meeting Title VII’s definition of protected conduct. With retaliation charges already ballooning – such claims with the EEOC doubled from 1992 to 2007 – this new decision will only reinforce the trend.

Cite: Crawford v. Metro Gov’t of Nashville.

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