Ways you can defend against a workplace discrimination claim

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2021 | Employment Law -- Employer |

A business can face a whole host of employment related legal issue over the course of its life. Any one of them can threaten to derail its financial stability and its reputation, both of which are imperative to continued success. That’s why it’s critical for businesses facing employment law issues to know how to aggressively defend themselves. One area where this can be especially important is when facing accusations of workplace discrimination.

Avoiding workplace discrimination

To start, there are things that you can do to try to curtail allegations of workplace discrimination. Your business should have a detailed and clear anti-discrimination policy, and your employees should have adequate and continuous education on workplace discrimination and how to avoid it. Providing clear reporting procedures and taking quick action against those who have been accused of workplace discrimination can also help insulate your business.

Defending against a workplace discrimination claim

As helpful as preventative efforts can be, the truth of the matter is that they won’t guarantee that you you’ll never see a workplace discrimination claim filed against you. When that happens, you need to know your defense options. Here are some of them:

  • Argue non-discriminatory motivation: Many workplace discrimination claims are made in the face of negative employment actions, such as a termination. Here, the employee argues that their status in a protected class is what motivated the employment action, but that might not be the truth of the matter. We’ve found that in many of these cases the employment action that was taken was justified on some other non-discriminatory grounds. Poor work performance, excessive tardiness, and an inability to perform the job duties requested can all serve as a non-discriminatory basis for an employment action. This is where performance appraisals, emails, and disciplinary documentation can help protect you.
  • Point to legitimate business purposes: Sometimes workplace discrimination claims are based on a policy or practice that is neutral on its face. The argument in these cases is that the policy or practice in question was implemented in a way that had a disparate impact on a protected class. You might be able to challenge this assertion by using pure statistics, but even if that’s not possible you might be able to argue that the policy or practice in doubt served a legitimate business purpose. For example, a policy that requires an individual to lift more than 100 pounds may disparately impact women, but if the position is in a warehouse and requires frequent lifting of heavy objects, then the requirement is probably okay from a legal standpoint.
  • Show a failure to notify: Under applicable statutes, an individual who alleges workplace discrimination first needs to bring the issue their employer’s attention. Failure to do so can result in the employee’s workplace discrimination claim being denied. Just keep in mind that if the employee does report the issue to you, then you need to be prepared to take remedial action.

Build the defense that is right for you

A workplace discrimination claim can have a tremendous impact on your business. But there are some very concrete steps that you can take to not only prevent discrimination from occurring, but also to defend against allegations of discrimination. To obtain the custom-tailored approach that your case deserves, you might want to think about speaking with a legal team that knows the ins and outs of this area of the law and how to aggressively defend your interests.