No company wants to be hit with a discrimination lawsuit. Apart from the potential for significant damages, a lawsuit can have other repercussions as well. For example, it could destroy your company’s reputation and standing in the community. A lawsuit is also bad for morale, is distracting, and can lead to decreased productivity.
While a discrimination lawsuit can be challenging, there are ways to defend against it. One of the most important steps you can take is to retain a New York business law attorney.
What Counts as Discrimination?
Before you can defend against discrimination, you have to have a full understanding of what it is. Most people believe that workplace discrimination is limited to overt, intentional acts. A manager using a racial slur or refusing to hire someone because of their gender are two obvious examples. However, cases like these are not as frequent as other, more insidious forms of discrimination.
Generally, discrimination means treating someone in your company as inferior based on a protected characteristic. Race, sex, and disability are just some of those characteristics. Discrimination touches on multiple aspects of employment, and can occur in:
- Bonuses and benefits
Other, related forms of conduct are also prohibited. For example, an employee cannot be harassed because of a protected characteristic. Neither can someone be fired or otherwise retaliated against for threatening to report discrimination.
Companies can be held liable for permitting or deliberately creating a discriminatory work environment. For example, if the owners of the company fail to stop employees from discriminating. In some cases, a company enacts policies that have a discriminatory effect. This, too, can land the business in hot water.
Protecting Your Business Against Discrimination Claims
At a minimum, your company needs to enact policies and procedures that prohibit workplace discrimination. These rules should be clear and enforced for everyone, from owners to contractors. Every employee in your organization must understand what sorts of conduct are not to be tolerated.
Part of having good workplace policies is having a complaint procedure. This allows an aggrieved employee to file a complaint and compels the company to take action. Enacting an effective complaint mechanism helps employees know their issues will be taken seriously.
Workplace training can also be used to help employees learn how to avoid and report discrimination. Periodic retraining is a good idea as well. When employees understand what discrimination is, they are more likely to report it. And early reporting can help avoid lawsuits.
How an Attorney Can Help
In drafting policies and procedures and conducting workplace training, it’s essential to have knowledgeable legal counsel. Your attorney will understand, first, what exactly is considered discrimination.
There may be different rules depending on the jurisdiction. For example, New York City generally has stronger prohibitions against discrimination compared to the rest of the state. Your lawyer will understand which laws apply to your business.
An attorney can also help create strong and enforceable policies. It’s not enough to just draft rules for your company. They need to be written in a way that will protect you against lawsuits. Even if you get sued, a good policy can act as a defense. And we’re ready to help you write and enact such a policy.
Defending the Rights of New York Businesses
Are you looking for ways to minimize the risk of a discrimination lawsuit? Has your company been sued, or is there a threat of a lawsuit? Turn to the experienced New York business attorneys of Rosenbaum & Taylor. We’re ready to assist your organization today.