Here's another example of why employers need to take seriously — and treat appropriately — employee complaints of discrimination. Here the plaintiff won a $3 million verdict when a jury found that the employer, United Airlines, retaliated against her for complaining about gender discrimination. Note, however, that the jury also found that United did not actually discriminate against her because of her gender.
If you were to give plaintiff attorneys a chocie between filing a complaint for discrimination or for retaliation, my guess is that they would usually choose retaliation. I'm open to discussion on that point. The important thing, however, is that when an employee complains of unlawful discrimination, even when the complaint is baseless, it needs to be investigated properly. And future HR decisions about the employee need to be made with the prior employment history in mind to maximize the chances that a retaliation complaint will not be filed in court in the future.