We thank today's Law360 Employment for reporting on three newly-filed discrimination suits, implicating issues of race, national origin, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, and retaliation. All this in just three lawsuits. All three plaintiffs allege that they were fired based upon these protected categories.
The Library of Congress was sued in federal court in Washington, D.C. by a former management analyst who claimed that once his homosexuality became known at work he was subjected to a hostile work environment based upon his religious affiliation (he claims to be a “liberal Christian”), and because he is gay.
Barclays Capital was just sued in federal court in New York by a commodities trader who claims that she was paid less than similarly situated males, and when she complained about this she was retaliated against by being fired.
Finally, the former president of Univision Radio National Sales has sued it in federal court in New York claiming that she was harassed and then fired due to her race (she claims that her accent was called a liability) and age.
It must be stressed that these are just-filed suits and so the defendant companies have had no opportunity to yet answer or otherwise rebut these allegations.
But what we find interesting (but not surprising), and what employers must face, is that in a down economy any adverse employment action, especially termination, will likely bring the possibility of discrimination lawsuits – alleging the entire panoply of possible claims of discrimination – concocted or otherwise.
Might as well brace yourselves, but take all possible protective action by (need we repeat it) having up to date employee handbooks in place and distributed; having zero-tolerance anti-discrimination policies that are widely disseminated; training-training-training and more training of both management and employees; investigating each and every complaint of discrimination made and taking remedial action if necessary; maintaining an open dialogue with employees about workplace practices and policies. There’s a lot more that can and should be done, but space limits us here.