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Q.What should an employer do to prevent discrimination claims?

A.Employers faced with discrimination claims could face huge punitive damage awards for which insurance companies have routinely denied coverage. To prevent this, employers must educate ALL of their employees, supervisors, and managers.

In June of 1999, the Supreme Court held that an employer's good-faith effort to comply with the federal anti-discrimination laws could preclude the imposition of punitive damages, even if managers made discriminatory workplace decisions in contravention of the company's antidiscimination policies. Kolstad v. American Dental Association, 119 S. Ct. 2118. Unfortunately, that "good faith effort" requires the employer to continuous educate ALL of the employees, supervisors, and managers on the state and federal anti-discrimination laws. See, EEOC v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 20015 (10th Cir., August 23, 1999) and Deffenbaugh-Williams v. Wal-Mart Stores, 1999 U.S. App. LEXIS 20824 (5th Cir., August 31, 1999).

Employers who fail to provide this continued education will remain open to the potential of huge punitive damage awards, which most insurance policies will not cover. Merely adopting a written company-wide policy is NOT sufficient. The employer must institute company wide all inclusive training and education programs on harassment, diversity, and the requirements and prohibitions applicable under Title VII and the American with Disabilities Act.




Copyright 1999-2018 Melissa C. Marsh. All Rights Reserved. All Information on this website is subject to a Disclaimer and Use Agreement. This information is provided as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. We advise you to seek the advice of competent legal counsel to address your own specific questions, facts and circumstances.