I just spent the last nine hours in a mediation. A disgruntled former employee claimed unlawful discrimination and harassment. The company of course denied any wrongful behavior. And thus the argument ensued.
In the end, the parties settled their dispute. And to the extent that settlement brings finality to fees, frayed nerves and extra work, a settlement is a good thing. But in the end, it's like kissing your sister. There's no real satisfaction in that!
So what are a company's choices? One is to litigate -- and hopefully prevail. Otherwise, the company will be paying its attorneys, the plaintiff and the plaintiff's attorneys. There's absolutely no satisfaction in that outcome.
The other choice is to avoid the claim in its entirety. In this case, some good HR practices could have avoided the claim. It's really true -- an employer needs to spend a few bucks now to avoid paying lots of bucks later.
One thing I will say, this employer used an arbitration provision. The plaintiff's attorney fought hard to get out of the agreement. But she lost. (Good job on winning that round Travis!) Being forced into arbitration took some steam out of the plaintiff's sails. It's much different to present a case to a legally-trained arbitrator as opposed to a sympathetic jury. (Ahhhh, a subject for another blog.)
Bottom line: Spend the time and money to avoid claims. It is the most satisfying option available to an employer.