Human resources professionals can add substantial value to their roles in many ways, one of which results from fully understanding how legal considerations and company practices are intertwined. Although HR professionals are not usually lawyers, they must work with lawyers to develop strategies for minimizing litigation risks.
One of the stickiest types of lawsuits is one in which an employee alleges that he complained about an unlawful practice of the company and then was punished (often discharged) as a result, in retaliation for having made the complaint. Retaliation cases are often more difficult than discrimination cases because they can implicate the subjective state of mind of the decision maker who adversely affected the employee. What can a human resources department do? Consider the following situation, which had a happy conclusion for the employer.