Thursday, July 16, 2009

Confidentiality Provides Protection Against Retaliation

If you've filed a complaint of race-based or other harassment at work, it is your employer's responsibility to make sure to protect your confidentiality as much as possible. Clearly, there will be an investigation, which means some employees may be asked what information they have regarding any allegations. Those employees should be warned that any sharing of information--any information--will not be tolerated. Obviously, you are still going to have some employees run their mouths, even with a warning and threat of repurcussions. However, an employer should make a good faith effort to keep things under wraps.

Some employers, have actually spread information regarding employee complaints as a means of setting a complaining employee up to be isolated or targeted by coworkers because of the complaint. Employers can't break confidentiality in order to execute a campaign of terror against a complaining worker.

Additionally, once an employer is aware that a worker has complained of race-based or other harassment, they must take action. They can't let the worker dictate that no investigation or action of any kind will go forward. Harassment must be prevented and corrected by employers. Here's what the EEOC specifically says about confidentiality and a requirement to prevent and correct harassment:

An employer should make clear to employees that it will protect the confidentiality of harassment allegations to the extent possible. An employer cannot guarantee complete confidentiality, since it cannot conduct an effective investigation without revealing certain information to the alleged harasser and potential witnesses. However, information about the allegation of harassment should be shared only with those who need to know about it. Records relating to harassment complaints should be kept confidential on the same basis.

A conflict between an employee's desire for confidentiality and the employer's duty to investigate may arise if an employee informs a supervisor about alleged harassment, but asks him or her to keep the matter confidential and take no action.

Inaction by the supervisor in such circumstances could lead to employer liability. While it may seem reasonable to let the employee determine whether to pursue a complaint, the employer must discharge its duty to prevent and correct harassment. One mechanism to help avoid such conflicts would be for the employer to set up an informational phone line which employees can use to discuss questions or concerns about harassment on an anonymous basis.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mary you're on point again! My former employer intentionally released my name so that my co-workers and management were anble to wage a hostile war against me. I will never forget my former manager after she had been told by the VP that someone complained about her racist behavior. The woman sat in the cubicle next to mine and went onto discussing this issue with my co-supervisor how she was under investigation. Once she got the director of the dept to chime-in and assist in her quest for retaliation she was completely out of control. After they demoted me for an incident in which they showed desparate treatment -her management co-workers were so happy they did not even realize what they had done. After they coerced and intimidated co-workers the one's who were evil with promotions and the one's who were just loyal they told them that I was not going to get fired just removed from their dept we're able to agree with them if they felt that I would keep my job. The HOUR dept willingly falsified and altered company documents. They were all oblivious to the fact that they were conspiring against me and breaking the law. Before the ink was dry on their coerced statements the manager was so angry I know that she could have resorted to physical violence against me. The manager went on to have my belongings thrown out into the corridor as she sought to alleviate her rage.I had to be humiliated publicly because they let everyone know I was the target and they were desparate to get even.

They told prospective employers that I was terminated for theft of personal information. The limits to which they were willing to go were unimaginable!

I still get heart palpitations.feelings of anxiety and tears begin to swell up in my eyes even years after the incident occured.

I just cannot understand how plotting someone's destruction is funny - this was a horrific ordeal.

Was I really a worthless person that deserved to be destroyed, because I told the truth? Yes, in their eyes because they did not want to know the truth.

I wasn't the first person to be discriminated against, I was just the first person who had the guts to speak up.

10:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are 40 years clear of the CRA and employers have developed a savvy attack strategy. The WAR is on and some companies have been preparing for the war and if you are not equipped you will find yourself at the end of a constructive discharge.

My former employer was a expert -- all seasoned employees knew that you dare not mess with the BIG BOYS. The Anti-retaliation policy was a public relations sham. They hired management and Human Resource personnel with former legal backgrounds, Sociologist etc as employees and all with a price tag and not one person exposed the companies terrible blatant tactics. Each one of these employers were hired to get rid of complainers.All instructions about employees who filed complaints were handled as potential litigants. Even if the complainer just wanted to keep their job you would not once you complained about the hot-button topics: discrimination (age gender disability etc), retaliation, They used every trick in the book from altering, falsifying company documents. Encouraging potential witnesses and corroborators to be silent. Forcing people to trump up ficticious stories and most of the participants were not rewarded with not much more than a buck or two but were willing culprits whether they were purple yellow black or white. Separate files were created in the home office on complainers - conversations were always conferenced with expert legal advice in the room at all times - all unbeknownst to the complainer. Their strategy was to find out all that you knew so they could unravel all of the facts.

No complainer was safe unless you had ties to the media or a famous person and the company had a reason to fear some exposure. This place was the king of corporate conspiracies and I could not find one honest person who would step up to the plate and just tell the truth.

BEWARE -- do not trust ANY employer look at them as a ring of rats especially when all of your co-workers are afraid.

8:07 PM  

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