There were 73,000 charges filed with the EEOC in 2019, costing employers more than $486 million. In light of the pandemic, these numbers are expected to rise this year, which isn’t surprising given the top complaints of 2019: retaliation, along with disability and racial discrimination.
Difficult employer decisions stemming from the pandemic—layoffs, reduced hours and cut pay—have elevated the risk of retaliation claims. As businesses reopen, the looming threat of COVID-19 has led to an influx of ADA complaints regarding inadequate safety measures in the workplace. Not to mention, a number of Asian Americans have experienced racial discrimination due to the geographic origin of the virus.
Take, for instance, these recent cases and incidents directly stemming from the coronavirus pandemic:
- Walmart is being sued by the family of an employee who passed away from the coronavirus. According to the lawsuit, the retailer did not maintain proper health or social distancing procedures, and failed to notify staff about some of their symptomatic colleagues despite being aware of them.
- Superhuman, a small branding firm in Minneapolis, is under fire for terminating a project manager just four days after she voiced her resistance to the company’s return-to-office decision. Her boss claims it was due to performance issues, but she believes it was retaliation for raising safety concerns.
- The Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council has reported multiple counts of anti-Asian discrimination in the workplace, including passive aggressive jokes about eating bat and the having the “Chinese flu.”
Pandemic-related or not, EEOC complaints cost companies time and money and hurt their reputations. Having numerous workplace complaints tied to a company’s name can lead to difficulties with business and attracting candidates.
Settle or fight? Be prepared either way
Even if a company chooses to settle instead of fighting the claim, the end result will still be an expensive bill. That’s why it’s crucial to keep abreast of employee concerns so you can catch issues before they potentially escalate into lawsuits.
Unfortunately, some complaints are bound to occur regardless of the precautions you take. There is no playbook on how to apply existing complaint procedures to the growing number of pandemic-specific lawsuits, leaving many employers without clear direction.
With federal and state guidelines changing daily, there are key distinctions that must be made within the EEOC complaint process in order to avoid legal trouble.
It’s important for companies to prepare ahead of time so they’re not left scrambling if a problem does come up. If your company doesn’t have a plan for handling complaints, or if it has been a while since it updated the existing plan, you’re at increased vulnerability to legal repercussions.
One thing worse than an EEOC complaint is an EEOC complaint that you’re completely unprepared for.
Premier Learning Solutions’ workshop is a great place to start if you need some direct guidance on updating or creating a complaint response strategy. EEOC complaints can get messy, but having a cohesive procedure in place will help keep the mess at the bare minimum.
The workshop is led by Max Muller, an attorney, businessman, and bestselling author with over 40 years of experience. Muller provides in-depth details on how to navigate the EEOC complaint process, protect your organizations and effectively combat complaints if they happen.
He’ll also provide reliable answers to any questions you may have during the workshop.
The live workshop will take place on July 22nd at 1pm (EST). If you can’t make it, you can still register and a recording will be provided to you following the end of the event.
Even if your company has never received a complaint before, it’s never a bad idea to stay prepared. As this year has shown us, unexpected things can happen at any time, often out of our control. But we do control whether we stay ready for them.