Playing Fair

All's Fair

Suppose you've decided to promote one candidate, and the other one comes in angry over the decision. "The employer walks a delicate line," Call says. "You have to say that you believe the one you promoted was the best for the job, pointing to the criteria." She advises employers not to get into the details, but to remind the unhappy one that he or she is a valuable employee. If that employee still decides to file a complaint with the EEOC or sue for discrimination, be extra careful to continue treating the employee fairly.

"The hardest thing is to not retaliate," says Markewich. On the other hand, you should avoid treating that employee with any more deference than before or fear using normal discipline procedures. Advises Markewich, "Don't let the employee hold you hostage just because she sued you for discrimination."

The best defense against lawsuits over discrimination is not to discriminate. "Employers should be sensitive to the fact that if there's only one race in management, it looks suspicious," Hoffman says. She advises employers with good minority candidates to promote them when it's feasible, not only to avoid the appearance of discrimination, but also because it's good policy to promote the best employees.

Contact Sources

Berger, Kahn, Shafton, Moss, Figler, Simon & Gladstone, 2 Park Plaza, #850, Irvine, CA 92614, (949) 474-1880

Hoyle, Morris & Kerr LLP, (215) 981-5823,

Tenzer Greenblatt LLP, (212) 885-5000,

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This article was originally published in the April 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Playing Fair.

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