In a workplace setting, treating people differently can be problematic. When an employee perceives that he or she has been treated less favorably than peers, it can create resentment and distraction in the workplace. Often, employees do not understand every element of a peer’s work product, employment agreements, salary, or expectations, so their assessment of differential treatment can be flawed; however, employers should never assume that the employee’s perception of disparate treatment is unjustified without first understanding the details of his or her concern.
When claims of discriminatory treatment in the workplace are based on protected categories, an employer has a legal duty to investigate those claims in a neutral, unbiased, and independent manner. The analysis of whether a claim of differential treatment requires investigation is incredibly complicated. This can only be determined after a sophisticated interaction with the reporting employee that details the indications of unequal treatment, as well as the suspected motivation for such treatment. After the initial claims are understood, an expert should make an assessment regarding the implication of illegal discrimination and the necessity of a formal investigation.
Claims of discrimination based on any of the following attributes require an immediate formal investigation by a neutral, unbiased, and experienced investigator:
It can be dangerous for an inexperienced employer to take any action without consulting an expert as employers may inadvertently reduce the quality of a future investigation or act in a way that is perceived as retaliating against a victim. Although some of these claims arise more frequently than others, LSC has successfully investigated each of these allegation types.
Additionally, many employers believe it is important that all similarly situated employees be treated equally because of their company values or because they recognize the negative consequences of treating employees differently. For example, some employers have policies to treat employees with similar tenure the same, regardless of previous experiences. Other employers are dedicated to treating employees within the same job class similarly regardless of educational background. Although the law does not require a formal investigation into non-protected classes like these, perceptive employers regularly investigate these matters to maintain the overall health of their workplace.
The Lynch Service Company’s investigative techniques are applicable to all forms of investigation. LSC’s systematic approach allows employees the opportunity and impetus to completely convey their concerns so that an appropriate investigation can be performed. If you have concerns about an employee’s allegations of discrimination or differential treatment, reach out to LSC for help exploring investigative options.