Discrimination claims are notoriously tricky to prove, however, they are also difficult to defend and a few small mistakes could expose your company to a huge amount of liability. For these types of claims its important that you take them seriously and take action from the outset. We have put together a list of top tips to consider when defending your discrimination claim.
Get your story straight
This does not mean you need to make up a story or draft a story for your employees to learn. You simply need to gather all the evidence, particularly the most incriminating evidence and piece together what has happened. Understanding the facts and having a clear and consistent timeline of events will help your position if the case ever makes it to the Tribunal. Talk to your key employees and provide them with all the relevant information.
Even at the early stages of a claim it is important to seek independent legal advice. This will help you to assess the value of the claim and look at whether it will be better to fight the claim or settle. Additionally, a legal professional can give you an analysis of the prospects of the claim and advise you on the risks and benefits of taking the claim to trail compared to the risks and benefits of settlement.
Do a risk/benefit analysis
Ask yourself about the person bringing the claim, do they have a genuine case or are they just trying to cause a nuisance. The look at the cost of defending the claim. Your legal advisor can help you with this analysis and advise you of how much it may cost in legal fees to defend and your chances of winning, verses, the cost you should offer as a settlement agreement.
Prepare and protect the evidence
When you are looking at getting your story straight the first thing you should do is collect all the evidence. Once this has been collected it needs to be protected to ensure you retain as much of the relevant information as possible. Start collating this evidence right from the start to ensure no emails are deleted or papers lost. Create a file of these papers and add to it at the case progresses. You will then need to make sure all employees involved in the matter fully understand the situation. This doesn’t just include their own part in the process but the case as a whole. If it does go to trial take some time with your witnesses to check their understanding of their evidence and the case as a whole.
Learn from the experience
Use this experience to think about what may have gone wrong in your office procedure to result in this case in the first place and try and learn some lessons for the future. This could include a more transparent hiring and firing procedure, or teaching employees about acceptable workplace behaviours.