An employee’s accusation of discrimination can be damaging to a company or organization. Even if you have taken steps to make sure your employees are not subject to harassment or discrimination in the workplace, such allegations can hurt you and your company’s reputation and damage morale. When you, as an employer, are facing an allegation of discrimination, you need to be aware of the legal defenses available to you in order to resolve the claim.
Most defenses for workplace discrimination rely on proving an employer had a valid basis, often known as "for good cause," for the actions taken against the employee. This defense consists of an employer showing they had reason to terminate an employee, deny a promotion or punish an employee for misconduct.
For example, an employer terminates someone who then alleges age discrimination. If the employer can show that they required all employees to report to work at a certain time, regardless of age, and that employee repeatedly failed to arrive on time, the employer would likely prevail.
In cases of an alleged hostile workplace, employers can also rely on the Faragher-Ellerth defense established by the U.S. Supreme Court. Employers can avoid vicarious liability when they can show that they had policies in place to prevent and correct any harassment, the employee did not take advantage of those policies and the employee did not face any adverse actions for reporting harassment.
In general, an employer should be ready and able to show that they acted in a proactive manner by showing evidence of:
Regulations and training to prevent a hostile workplace
Policies that allow for reporting and investigating claims of harassment
No retaliation after an employee reports discrimination, harassment or other behavior that creates a hostile work environment
Prompt action to correct discriminatory behavior once a supervisor or others in management role became aware of the problem
In all cases of alleged discrimination, the employer also should be able to show that it terminated, punished or denied a promotion on the basis of job preference, failure to abide by company policies or other non-discriminatory reasons.
Working with an experienced lawyer who has handled discrimination claims can help you build a strong defense.
At Barker, Gelfand, James & Sarvas, P.C., our lawyers represent employers throughout New Jersey and defend them against sexual harassment and discrimination claims. If your company is facing a potential discrimination case, call 609-601-8677 or contact us online to arrange a consultation.
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Barker, Gelfand, James & Sarvas, P.C. is located in Linwood, NJ and serves clients in and around Linwood, Somers Point, Ventnor City, Margate City, Northfield, Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic City, Pleasantville, Absecon, Pomona, Oceanville, Mays Landing, Egg Harbor City, Port Republic, Brigantine, Longport, We also serve Atlantic, Cape May, Gloucester, Cumberland and Camden counties.
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