Investigating and responding to allegations of retaliation by employees or former employees often makes managers, supervisors and officers angry, frustrated or upset. However, these natural and human feelings about a potentially false retaliation claim can be used against employers in a retaliation lawsuit.
A manager’s hurt feelings, anger, upset demeanor, unhappiness or defensiveness can be used as evidence of retaliatory animus. See. Woods v. Washtenaw Hills Manor Inc., Case No. 07-cv-15420, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 22358, *47 (E.D. Mich. 2009); Anderson v. Royal Crest Dairy Inc., 281 F. Supp. 2d 1242, 1250 (D. Colo. 2003); Kinzel v. Discovery Drilling, Inc., 93 P.3d 427, 436 (Ak. 2004); Miller v. National Life Insurance Co., Case No. 00364, 2009 U.S. Dist. Lexis 10626, *27 (D. Conn. 2009).
Making sure that officers, managers, supervisors, and employees are trained and properly investigating claims of retaliation is crucial in avoiding liability for employers. At the same time, mechanical or uncompassionate reactions often make the employer less credible during EEOC or IDHR investigations, or a lawsuit.
Understanding the tightrope that employers have to walk in this regard can be the difference between winning or losing a dispositive motion or a trial. If you have any concerns or questions about implementing a proper training procedure or defending against retaliation claims, then feel free to contact us.