How to Handle Employee Discrimination Claims in the Workplace in Arizona?

How Employers Should Resolve Employee Discrimination Claims

Handling employee discrimination claims in a workplace is a sensitive and complex topic, requiring careful navigation to ensure fairness, compliance, and a harmonious working environment. In Arizona, addressing such claims calls for a strategic approach, often involving legal expertise. That’s where an Arizona business attorney becomes an invaluable resource.

But before contacting the experts, let’s explore some essential steps and considerations for effectively managing employee discrimination claims in an Arizona workplace. 

We’ll offer insights to help both employers and employees understand their rights, responsibilities, and the path to resolution. So, let’s get started!

A lawyer with a statue of Lady Justice in a law office, representing employee discrimination claims

Spotting & Reporting Employee Discrimination Complaints

A discrimination complaint is officially lodged when any manager within the organization becomes aware of the issue. Therefore, all managers must be able to spot and report such complaints. 

This includes situations where an employee wants you to know about the problem but doesn’t seek action, information heard through employees, or casual comments about unfair treatment outside of work. Regardless of how the company learns of it, every complaint must be treated seriously and investigated promptly.

Choosing the Right Investigator for Employee Discrimination Complaints

The company must select a qualified, impartial, and unbiased investigator to handle complaints. This investigator should have no personal or reporting ties to the complaining employee or the accused.

Sometimes it’s better to hire an external investigator, especially when internal resources lack the necessary time or expertise, or when objectivity might be in question. 

If the employee takes legal action or the company anticipates sensitive information emerging, it may be necessary to hire a business attorney.  This ensures a thorough and legally sound process.

Get Information from the Complaining Employee

Ideally, the investigator should start with a written complaint from the employee. This helps structure the process and pinpoint relevant documents. But, keep in mind that flexibility is essential, and depending on the situation, the investigation may need to proceed even without a written statement.

During discussions with the complaining employee, the investigator should seek comprehensive details about the incident, including who, what, why, when, and where. They should also inquire about potential witnesses and supporting documents.

Addressing the employee’s concerns about working with the accused is vital. Separating them may be also necessary for safety, without harming the complaining employee’s situation.

Interviewing & Evidence Gathering in Confidential Discrimination Investigations

The investigator should talk to the witnesses pointed out by the complaining employee to gather their insights. It might be beneficial as well to interview potential witnesses not initially identified. 

For instance, if an employee reports ongoing inappropriate comments from a supervisor, the investigator might speak with others who interact with that supervisor regularly. 

Throughout this process, the company must balance between gathering thorough information and preserving the complaint’s confidentiality and the accused person’s reputation. The investigator should share only as much detail as needed with witnesses to extract relevant information.

A business lawyer might also be helpful for this step. 

Interview the Accused & Ensure Fairness and Accuracy in Employee Discrimination Investigations

The employee facing discrimination allegations deserves a chance to address the accusations, present their side of the story, and identify any supporting witnesses or documents. The investigator should also ask if the complaining employee might have any motive for making a false complaint. 

During meetings with the accused, the complaining employee, and witnesses, the investigator assesses credibility and seeks to uncover what happened. 

Gathering Documentary Evidence To Uncover the Truth in Employee Discrimination Investigations

In a discrimination complaint, various documents like records, emails, and text messages can be crucial. The investigator should figure out which documents matter and gather them. For example, if there are claims of inappropriate emails, a search of the company’s email system may be necessary. 

These documents can either back up what someone says or raise questions about their credibility. 

The investigator should collect all relevant documents and keep them as part of the investigation record.

Preventing Retaliation in Employee Discrimination Investigations & Protect the Rights of All Involved

Everyone involved in the investigation should know that the company will not take any negative actions in response to their participation. The investigator should stress this policy during each interview and explain how to report any fears of retaliation. 

The company can hire a business attorney experienced in discrimination claims to make the process easier.

The company must be extra cautious and avoid any actions that may seem retaliatory when handling the complaining employee’s situation.

Taking Corrective Action after Employee Discrimination Investigations To Ensure Fairness and Preventing Recurrence

After concluding the investigation, the investigator must make a final decision. If an employee is found to have misbehaved, the company should promptly take corrective action. 

The specific action will depend on various factors, like the seriousness of the misconduct, the employee’s history, and the company’s past responses to similar situations. 

Regardless of the action taken, the goal is to address and prevent any discriminatory behavior. 

It’s essential to note that finding a policy violation or inappropriate behavior doesn’t necessarily mean unlawful discrimination. Legal determinations should be avoided by the investigator.

In some cases, like when there are no witnesses or clear credibility issues, the investigation may not be able to reach a clear conclusion. Even when no wrongdoing is proven, the company should ensure the accused understands discrimination and retaliation policies and provide additional training if needed.

Maintaining Accurate & Legible Notes for Legal Compliance

During the investigation, the investigator should keep detailed, timely notes of interviews, noting the dates, attendees, and a factual account of the discussions.

A business attorney can help ensure the documentation is appropriate, as it requires an understandable format. 

It’s essential to maintain accuracy and legibility in these notes since, in many instances, they may be subject to review in legal proceedings. 

Post-Investigation Communication in Employee Discrimination Cases To Ensure Fairness, Transparency, and Comfort

After completing the investigation, the company should inform the complaining employee of the outcome without necessarily disclosing specific disciplinary actions. 

The company should emphasize its commitment to prevent further discrimination or retaliation. The employee should obtain a clear channel to report any future concerns.

Regardless of additional complaints, the investigator should follow up with the employee to ensure their comfort in the workplace and address any lingering concerns.

Investigations may be demanding, but they’re essential. Mishandling discrimination complaints carries significant consequences, emphasizing the need for a diligent and efficient response process.

Get In Touch With An Arizona Business Lawyer For Expert Advice

If you need legal guidance in handling discrimination claims, we strongly recommend consulting with Denton Peterson Dunn. We can provide expert advice, ensuring that your company follows the law and protects the rights and well-being of all parties involved. Contact us now!


Brad Denton, Business Lawyer
 – Denton Peterson Dunn

1930 N Arboleda #200
Mesa, AZ 85213

Office: 480-660-3249
Email: [email protected]

7272 E Indian School Rd #540-132
Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Phone: 480-690-3283
Email: [email protected]