Happy belated Labor Day.
Did you have a nice weekend? My family took a little road trip down to Baltimore on Sunday for baseball game. While tempted to leave my first-born behind for wearing a Yankees t-shirt and hat — where did I go wrong as a parent? — I nonetheless enjoyed America’s Pastime and my son left Oriole Park at Camden Yards with a little something extra.
Well, back to boring reality. It’s FMLA time.
You received a complaint of sexual harassment from a female employee against a male co-worker.
So, you promptly investigate, during which you interview the complainant and the alleged harasser, and review documents. When the investigation ends, you conclude that the female complainant — not the male co-worker — was the sexual harasser. So, you promptly fire the female employee.
Legally, did you do anything wrong? Well, notwithstanding the factual twist, it doesn’t seem that way. But things aren’t always as they seem. And I’d get a day off from blogging if this one were that straightforward
Since 1998, when the EEOC issued a compliance manual on retaliation, the percentage of EEOC private sector and state and local government charges alleging retaliation has practically doubled.
Think about it. An employee complains to the company about some form of discrimination. Then that employee gets fired. So, that employee files a Charge of Discrimination at the EEOC. Inevitably, that employee will likely check two boxes. The first box will be the underlying claim of discrimination, which will vary based on the the employee’s protected class (e.g., race, religion, national origin, etc.). The other checked box will be retaliation — every time. That’s why retaliation is the most common Charge filed at the EEOC.
Yesterday, the EEOC updated its guidance on retaliation and related issues.