JCK 5: How to Handle Discrimination Complaints

What do you do if an employee comes to you with a discrimination ­complaint? Get out your pen or keyboard and document it, says Jewelers Vigilance Committee’s Cecilia Gardner.

1. “Create a written memo outlining the complaint, with as much specific information as possible,” she says.

2. Take a neutral position about it and, in a nonconfrontational way, speak to the person against whom the complaint is alleged to determine whether the complaint can be substantiated. Be sure to document that conversation as well.

3. Investigate the situation, and talk to those involved to make a determination on action. Kate Peterson of Performance Concepts says there must be no recrimination as a result of filing a complaint.

4. Insist on confidentiality. Keep the details of the case private. If information leaks out, it could damage the reputation of the accuser and lead to a defamation lawsuit against you.

5. After your decision, keep all documents on file in case of further incidents. “If things don’t stop, you may need to take steps for a more definitive correction, including termination if that seems appropriate,” says Gardner. —SV