At some point while running your business, you may have an employee who files a discrimination claim. This employee could claim she didn’t receive a deserved promotion because she was pregnant or she could complain that her manager didn’t allow her breaks to accommodate her Muslim prayer times. When it becomes clear your disgruntled employee will file a lawsuit, you might not know what to expect next.
Here are five steps involved when your company faces a discrimination lawsuit:
- Your employee will request his or her employment file. You are required to provide it. If you don’t, you can’t use information from the file in a discrimination case that goes to court.
- Your business will receive notice of the filed lawsuit. As part of the notice, your business will receive a certain amount of time to respond to the discrimination allegations (for federal cases, the time allotted is 20 days). If your business doesn’t respond to the allegations in that time, the court will rule in favor of your employee by default.
- The case will have a discovery period. During this time, the prosecution (representing your employee) and the defense (representing your business) will trade evidence in the case. You may receive depositions from witnesses to the alleged discrimination as part of this process.
- Your business and your employee may decide to negotiate a settlement for the lawsuit out of court. You may decide to enter arbitration over the matter, as a more cost-efficient and less time-consuming alternative to court.
- Your business and your employment law attorney may need to protect your business interests in court, to present your best defense that the discrimination claim is invalid.
Employment discrimination allegations are serious. As a business owner, you want to ensure your business doesn’t violate federal discrimination laws and isn’t a hostile workplace for employees of all genders, races and religions. Investigating and resolving an employee’s compliant about discrimination is an important part of running your business effectively and fairly.