Charges - Should You be Concerned?
good news is the number of charges of discrimination
filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
in 2004 (79,432) dropped below 80,000 mark for the first
time since the year 2000. In 2003, there were 81,293.
1994 was the worst year when over 91,000 charges of
discrimination and harassment were filed with the Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission. To put this is in
a different perspective, last year about 64 employees
a day ran to the EEOC to file a complaint of unjust
treatment. This is not much better than 1994 when 67
people a day filed complaints.
bad news is that the number of equal employment lawsuits
again eclipsed the 400 mark as 415 lawsuits were filed
last year. More disturbing is that the average monetary
award was more than $400,000. Two years ago, the average
settlement was about $145,000. This does not include
the legal fees which may add on another $200,000.
you be concerned? An article published by the Business
Journal of the Golden Triad Area in North Carolina last
week cited two different studies (one by the Chubb Insurance
Group and another by HR Executive Magazine) in which
business owners and managers are becoming more and more
concerned about being sued for discrimination. In fact,
both studies indicated that more than half of the executives
surveyed fully expect to be sued for discrimination
and they feared these types of lawsuits more than any
can these companies do to protect themselves? Think
of these four words: fairness, consistency,
respect, dignity. Most complaints are filed
because the employee felt that one or more of these
concepts were missing in the employment relationship.
Many of the complaints are filed to get back at the
employer. The concepts are simple to grasp and simple
The most important concept of fairness is determined
by how the company promotes and disciplines employees.
Are employees given the same opportunities to apply
for promotions? Do you give employees who are not meeting
standards an opportunity to improve? Think of it in
your own terms. If you are not performing your job well,
how would you feel if you were fired without being told
your job performance was not up to par?
This goes hand in hand with fairness. The same rewards
and recognition should be given for similar accomplishments.
Likewise, similar punishment should be given for similar
offenses. To do otherwise shows favoritism and inconsistency.
Employees should always be treated with the utmost respect
regardless of the circumstances. This should be firmly
ingrained in the culture of your organization. Any employee,
including and especially the Chief Executive Officer
of the organization, who violates these values should
be dealt with firmly.
Another reason that employees want to take revenge on
their employer is because the boss somehow managed to
strip the employee of his or her self respect. To regain
some of the lost pride, the employee may decide to take
some action to bring the employer down a peg. So why
not file a discrimination complaint? It doesn’t
cost the employee one red cent. The cost to the employer
can be astronomical.
some business owners should be scared, especially if
they aren’t treating their employees with fairness,
consistency, respect and dignity.