Every company and business owner has experience with employee issues that fall under the watchful eye of the Equal Opportunity Commission. As an employer, how can you prevent EEOC claims in your organization?
The first step is to have solid and updated policies and procedures for all types of work situations including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, layoffs, job assignments, benefits, compensation and retaliation.
Make sure that all your employees understand that you will carefully consider and investigate any claim made against your company. Communicate these policies to your employees on a regular basis and establish a clear chain of command for employees to discuss employment issues with supervisors, managers or the human resources department. Establish an open and confidential environment so employees feel comfortable with your internal procedures.
It is also important to have both manager and employee training on your internal policies and procedures. Managers and supervisors should have a basic understanding of EEOC laws and be trained as first responders for employee complaints. Make sure they clearly understand that what they say and do could become a liability against your company. Employees should receive annual training regarding definitions of harassment or discrimination and the polices in place to help resolve potential problems.
Another preventive measure is to conduct timely, confidential and fair investigations into employee complaints. Your investigator should have in depth knowledge of employment laws and the ability to determine the facts of the complaint by conducting interviews with all managers, supervisors or employees involved in the issue. After completing the investigation, the company must determine if any internal policies have been compromised and determine an appropriate action. The investigation must be properly documented as it could become Exhibit 1 in any subsequent EEOC investigation.
Finally, it is important that your organization is viewed by your employees and the EEOC as a welcoming workplace. Top management should provide employees with incentives such as setting criteria for performance reviews and compensation which include tangible benefits for being a “Good Citizen.”
Like any disaster recovery plan, the best defense is a good offense.