Employers and HR professionals are often unsure of how to handle relations with employees who have filed complaints against them for violations of discrimination and other employment laws. And some employees take the anti-retaliation provisions of these laws to mean they can behave however they want at work and not fear any consequences. While this is not true, employers must still be very careful in their dealings with employees who have filed complaints with the EEOC, DFEH or other state or federal agencies.
Retaliation against an employee for filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or California Department of Fair Housing and Employment is strictly prohibited by the enabling laws of both agencies. This remains the case even if the complaint is ultimately found to be without merit. Therefore, employers should keep several things in mind when interacting with individuals who remain employees while an employment law complaint or lawsuit plays out:
Make every attempt to treat the employee the same way you treat all your other employees.
Fully document the basis for any adverse employment action should it become necessary to discipline the employee.
Maintain strict compliance with company procedures regarding promotion, seniority or any other employment action.
Disciplining or terminating an employee who has previously filed a discrimination or harassment complaint can be delicate to say the least.