What Managers Can Do To Lower Employment Practices Litigation

There has been a sharp increase in the number of workplace discrimination lawsuits filed in Colorado in recent years.

One-third of all employment disputes in 2020—a total of 217 complaints—were workplace discrimination claims. That is a 200 percent increase from 2017, when only 66 complaints of the 537 employment lawsuits filed in Colorado civil court alleged employment discrimination.

Between 2017 and 2018, the number of cases alleging violations of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act nearly doubled to 198 lawsuits in 2018.

An average of 50 cases per year over the past three years alleged race discrimination, compared with an average of 20 cases per year from 2013 through 2015.

In one lawsuit, a sports anchor claims the entertainment company he worked for paid him less than his non-Hispanic coworkers and forced him to take an at-will contract after he attended rehab.

One complainant, a 56-year-old white Christian woman from the American South, sued the senior living center where she worked for race, national origin, religious, ethnic identity, and age discrimination.

A Korean American woman who worked as a production designer for a startup sued the employer on allegations that the "male dominated office degraded its female employees."

Men, women, and transgender employees have filed gender discrimination lawsuits. In addition, both the alleged victims and the alleged perpetrators of sexual harassment have filed suits.

Because many claims are required to go to arbitration or administrative courts, the number of lawsuits is only a portion of the total number of employment discrimination disputes.

Some attorneys believe larger social movements are responsible for the increase in employment discrimination suits, while others cite legislative expansions of worker's rights.

According to one attorney, "There's been a breakdown in civility. A lot of people now are really afraid to talk to their coworkers."

Many attorneys believe the pandemic-related recession will lead to more lawsuits in the coming years than during the #MeToo movement. Disputes are often a lagging indicator of an economic downturn. Amanda Pampuro "Workplace discrimination lawsuits skyrocket in Colorado" denverpost.com (Apr. 20, 2021).

 

 

Commentary

With employment discrimination claims on the rise, not just in Colorado, but everywhere, managers and supervisors must be sure to enforce their organization’s policy prohibiting discrimination.

If you are unclear about your organization’s policy, review it with human resources.

Enforcement means you have to be observant and interact with employees. Let them know you are there to support them and to make sure they have a work environment that is safe from discrimination and harassment.

If you observe, experience, or are told about conduct that could be harassment or discrimination based on a protected class, immediately report that to those in your organization who are authorized to arrange for an investigation of the matter.

Always implement any corrective steps that those who considered the findings of the investigation have directed you to put in place.

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