Ramon E. Rivera
January 25, 2012
New Jersey-based Quest Diagnostics Inc. is facing a potentially costly gender discrimination lawsuit
. The lawsuit alleges that a predominantly male management team at AmeriPath, a Florida subsidiary of Quest, fostered an environment hostile to the advancement of female employees. It seeks class-action status.
The lawsuit, which seeks $100 million in damages, demonstrates how discrimination claims can quickly spiral into costly lawsuits. Just one year ago, drug maker Novartis was forced to pay $152.5 million to settle a similar gender discrimination lawsuit. The class action suit was filed by five female employees who claimed they faced gender discrimination in pay and promotion. The case was later certified on behalf of 5,600 women.
Given the rise in gender discrimination lawsuits, we cannot stress enough how important it is for employers to create and enforce discrimination policies. In addition, it is equally important to investigate all claims of disparate treatment before they lead to an EEOC charge or an employee lawsuit.
With this in mind, below are some general tips for addressing discrimination in the workplace:
- Establish a written discrimination and harassment policy.
- Invest time and money into employee training and education.
- Take any complaints of discrimination and harassment seriously. Employers have an affirmative duty to promptly investigate all complaints of discrimination and harassment.
- Document your investigation, and keep complaints confidential.
- Do not retaliate against employees who complain to you or who decide to seek the assistance of a federal or state human rights or employee rights agency or commission.
- If you find that discrimination or harassment has occurred, take appropriate and immediate action.
If your business is looking to establish employment practices and preventive programs that minimize the potential for litigation, we encourage you to contact one of our employment law attorneys
. We regularly conduct seminars and customized training sessions for management and employees. Our training has been effective in implementing and reinforcing internal company policies, emphasizing compliance with existing law, and setting the tone for the workplace environment.