Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Too Many Americans Feel Workplace Discrimination

According to a recent FindLaw survey, more than one in four Americans has been discriminated against at their place of employment.

If that figure is accurate, it's way too high. I used to represent individuals in employment law matters. I made the transition over to the management side many years ago due to a variety of reasons, including:
  • Amendments to the Civil Rights laws resulted in few plaintiff's cases successfully surviving summary judgment;
  • Because of defense success on summary judgment, settlement value (and offers to settle) were reduced or reserved until after the ruling on the motion for summary judgment;
  • Most of the cases I saw arose out of some one's "bad day at work", which was a symptom of a larger problem: employers did a poor job of bridging the communication gap between rank-and-file employees and management. Most employees were unhappy because they had no outlet to aggrieve concerns, so instead of complaining to management, they were seeking out attorneys.

I realized that what I was doing had limited societal utility; I was "leveraging" cases to the point of settlement, but the problem was not being solved with the communication gap in the workplace. So, I started transitioning to the management side with an emphasis on preventing workplace disputes before they arose. Put another way, if I can educate clients on how to properly run a workplace, on what employees' rights and responsibilities are, then I've preventing a "bad day at work" and in the process helped with the great good.

So, given my goals and practice focus, it disturbs me that so many people still feel victimized at their workplace. It shows that we still have a long way to go with training and educating employers on best practices in the workplace.

No comments: