The COVID-19 pandemic has completely rewritten the playbook for U.S. companies that do their best to avoid claims of employment discrimination. Until recently, these employers had just two or three boxes that needed to be checked before they could proceed with disciplining or terminating an employee: Protected class? Protected activity? Retaliation?
Now the “gotcha” list has become like the magic beanstalk that keeps growing, and companies large and small find themselves facing claims for routine business actions that never before would have raised red flags. A record number of lawsuits filed in 2020 allege discrimination or retaliation because of COVID-related issues, and that number is expected to grow significantly in 2021.