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What to Do If You're Accused of Discrimination

Call an employment lawyer to prepare your defense

First, take a deep breath. Determine if this is a current or former employee, and whether you have insurance coverage. Avoid venting your frustrations or disparaging the charging party, particularly by email. Identify your goals and evaluate your risks, including risks to the company’s reputation, relationships and employee morale. Get legal counsel involved early to come up with a game plan. Make sure everyone involved understands attorney-client privilege and how to avoid waiving it.  

Do not take shortcuts. Protect the company from conflicts of interest. Make decisions based on complete and accurate information. Get the facts. Understand the law. Do your homework. Do not assume. 

Secure all evidence relating to the charge, including hard-copy files, email and other electronic data; recordings; calendars; telephone records; personnel files and manager files. Keep the matter confidential, except for those with a need to know. Follow applicable policies and procedures. Be intentional and discreet. Do not guess or shoot from the hip. If you have more than one path available to accomplish your goals, choose the path with the least harm to the charging party. Remember that burning down a charging party’s house might result in burning down your own. 

Margaret Behringer Maloney is an attorney at Maloney Law & Associates in Charlotte

For more information about this area, see our overview on employment law for employers and discrimination or reach out to an employment attorney for legal advice.

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