|Oct. 1, 2014 | www.fisherphillips.com|
You finally decided to take the long overdue disciplinary action. Jack has got to be disciplined. But just before you do, Jack, possibly sensing what’s about to happen, makes a complaint of harassment. This is the first you’ve heard of this problem. Is the complaint legitimate? What do you do? Continue with the planned disciplinary action? Put your decision on hold while you investigate? Will it look like retaliation if you proceed with the discipline?
On the one hand, employers have the right to take disciplinary action. On the other hand, employees have the right to make good-faith complaints about what they believe is unlawful conduct without fear of reprisal. In situations such as the one described above, the issue will be which came first – the decision to take disciplinary action or the complaint of harassment.
There are a lot of misconceptions regarding unemployment claims filed by recently-departed employees. This article will try to shed some light on them and help answer the common question: “Should we fight an unemployment claim?”
A recent state court decision from Oregon shows just how difficult it is for employers to prevail in such claims, and might lend you some guidance in answering this question for yourself. (The laws dealing with unemployment claims vary widely from state to state, but by and large all follow the same general patterns).
Generally speaking, human resources professionals and business executives have become quite adept at dealing with employee claims for illegal harassment. For example, just about any HR manager can provide a definition of a “hostile work environment.” Likewise, HR managers are keenly aware of what to do when handling workplace romantic relationships or inappropriate conduct that have the potential to generate a lawsuit.