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EULawyer
EULawyer, Lawyer
Category: German Law
Satisfied Customers: 248
Experience:  Titular Attorney (Avocat) at Ioan-Luca Vlad Law Office
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I joined a U.S. company based in berlin, manage a group of

Customer Question

Hello,
I joined a U.S. company based in berlin, manage a group of 10 country managers. The company is young with many great projects and ideas. Recently I've been pushing on my team to increase work focus and productivity. I try to build good team spirit,we do team building activities and off sites. Lately I was informed a few members of my team filed legal complaints saying Im gay intolerant.I know for sure its something impossible,I have gay friends and I dont regard ones sexual preference as a barrier. Are there legal forms to protect me from false accusations? Thank you in advance.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: German Law
Expert:  EULawyer replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

I am sad you have met with this situation, which affects many small and medium sized employers, for various reasons.

The problem with the Anti-Discrimination law of August 1, 2006, is that it is a fact-based law, namely whatever is put into writing is of second importance to whatever is claimed to happen in reality. For example, let's say that in the internal regulations for employees, you include an article saying that it is forbidden to insult a person, tease or otherwise make them uncomfortable with references to their sexual identity. This article (which would still be highly recommended) would be second place. The employee could still claim that, in practice, the company is gay intolerant, because they would claim the article is just on paper, and not respected in reality.

The advice given for these situations (preventive advice) is as follows:

- document every HR decision thoroughly, by reference to written objective criteria (for example, set up quantifiable tasks and regularly rate your employees based on those tasks alone);

- introduce a concerns-expression procedure within the company, which is "employee-friendly" (for example, designating one of the employees, or a third party contractor as a person who is entitled to hear all issues they might have and raise them anonymously with the employer);

- actively promote awareness of discrimination within your company, such as by including a session with an anti-discrimination psychologist or expert during one of your team activities, and document it in writing / video.

Now that you have been hit with the legal complaints, it is important to discuss with a specialized attorney, because no amount of preventive work can count for the past. If you do have anti-discrimination policies in your company by-laws, put them forward. Also, try and see whether there was ever a documented case of employee complaints and the way you have handled it. The idea being to show a positive history of taking into account all your employees' concerns in a fair an objective manner.

Here is also a handbook issued by the Anti-Discrimination Agency of Germany, specifically for employers: http://www.antidiskriminierungsstelle.de/SharedDocs/Downloads/DE/publikationen/Handbuch_Diskriminierungsschutz/Vorleseversion.html

I hope this gives you an outline of your options. I am very sad that there are no forms available for your case. It is the kind of case which needs specialized, point by point analysis by a lawyer, and a bevvy of preventive measures (mostly involving good documentation of HR management, a complaints procedure and awareness sessions) to protect yourself from future similar claims.

Cordially,

Dr Ioan-Luca Vlad

Expert:  EULawyer replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

Please consider rating my answer as it is the only way to be paid.

Cordially,

Dr Ioan-Luca Vlad

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