Golf Club Operator Fired Employee Twice for Reporting Discrimination and Filing EEOC Charge, Federal Agency Charges
I actually count at least 3 possible retaliation claims arising from the inexplicable actions of this employer. With this EEOC suit, it appears that this employer is in for a crash course on employment law basics that they either forgot or never knew. While golf clubs have not exactly been known as the most progressive workplaces over the years, this particular case does all golf clubs a serious disservice.
The EEOC alleges that Golf International (“Golf Intl”) employee Jeff White submitted an internal complaint that certain female employees were being sexually harassed by the head chef in their onsite restaurant. Golf Intl fired White the next day. After White filed a retaliation complaint with the EEOC, Golf Intl offered to reinstate him conditioned on him withdrawing his retaliation complaint. White refused, Golf Intl rehired him, but then fired him again within a matter of weeks. The EEOC also alleges that Golf Intl gave negative references about White and other employees to other employers. Wow.
It is considered HR 101 to take all employee complaints regarding workplace harassment and discrimination seriously. Taking such complaints seriously means conducting an impartial and confidential investigation, which must include speaking to all witnesses and the alleged harasser. One of the worst things an employer can do when an employee files a harassment complaint is to discipline them, particularly before even conducting an investigation.
When employers react rashly to employee complaints, the retaliation claims that follow take the focus away from the underlying complaints, which may have been baseless. It is vital that employers train HR and supervisors (and owners!) on employment law basics, including retaliation. If you are an HR executive, do you provide your supervisors with proper training that includes the concept of retaliation? If not, implement one immediately. Such retaliation claims can tarnish whatever else fine work HR has done over the years, because it makes the Company look like the worst sort of offender that seeks to make an example out of employees and discourage others from speaking out against unlawful harassment.
At Reid Kelly, P.C., our trainings are comprehensive and designed to educate and empower management to handle all sorts of labor and employment law issues. Talk to us about a training program audit, where we look at whether your current program leaves you and your team vulnerable to legal liability in crucial areas. Taking preventative measures is not only good for business, but can be part of an overall great employee communication program.
DISCLAIMER: This blog and any information contained herein, including this post, are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent counsel for advice on any legal matter.