In the current environment in Portland and across the nation, people are increasingly sensitive to allegations of workplace violations. Employment law can be complex and in many cases, workers do have a viable claim that they were mistreated. That mistreatment can include harassment, wrongful termination, discrimination and more. Still, employers have rights and should understand how to defend against legal claims that can not only cost them significant money in payouts, but may cast them in a negative light and harm their business.

A former worker at a grocery store has filed a lawsuit asserting he was subjected to racism. He seeks $2 million. The man, 26, says that he and other workers were confronted with these issues and lodged complaints to management. He states that after complaining, he was dismissed. He had worked for the chain for five years until 2019. The man, an African-American, says a manager made racially insensitive comments about what other people were purchasing at the store. The manager claimed to have been joking. A state agency had investigated and found that the former worker showed “substantial evidence” that he was being harassed and the termination was done because of his complaints. The company had warned the manager.

Businesses are increasingly accused of racially insensitive behavior and other legal violations in the workplace. While there is no place for any form of racism or harassment on the job and workers should certainly not be dismissed for lodging reasonable complaints, there are often underlying factors that could be part of defending a claim. Employers could have adhered to the law when addressing these issues. The dismissal may have been for reasons other than retaliation.

Despite the allegations in this man’s claim and the state agency investigation, it is still imperative for the company to put forth a defense. Scrutinizing the entire case can protect the business and perhaps find a workable solution to avoid a trial. For advice and a defense strategy, calling for a consultation with a firm experienced in all areas of business law can be useful.