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The keywords for businesses that want to avoid Federal and State anti-discrimination laws are “education” followed by “more education.” Training employees, particularly supervisors, as to how to avoid discrimination and to ensure compliance with existing laws, must be a priority for everyone. Employers who fail to heed this strategy are only inviting the inevitable; lawsuits, payouts to discriminated workers and punitive damage awards. Under current Supreme Court law, the good news is that employers who demonstrate they have made good-faith compliance efforts (such as educational and training) can escape liability for punitive damages even when their supervisory employees had made bad workplace decisions. The bad news, however, is those employers who cannot show they had made good-faith efforts to comply with anti-discrimination laws, essentially leaving the door open and exposing themselves to punitive damages awards. (Statement prepared by Mario Cometti, Partner, Tully Rinkey PLLC Attorneys and Counselors at Law)

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