Over the last few years, the cases of discrimination in the workplace have considerably increased. Discrimination can be of varied forms based on race, religion, sex, color, national origin, age, disability and more. There are numerous federal laws as well as state and local laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace. It’s the responsibility of the employer to strictly implement such laws and take appropriate actions against offenders. Dealing with the complaints of discrimination, properly investigating them and developing anti-discrimination policies are of utmost importance. There are two vital aspects of dealing with discrimination in the workplace as an employer – staying updated about the laws and regulations, and keeping a close watch on what’s happening in your organization. Discrimination complaints negatively impact the organization in multiple ways and may result in work disruption, costly lawsuits, government investigation, etc which damage the entire work environment. However, there are a few strategies to create a discrimination-free workplace. Take a look:
- Organize Anti-Discrimination Training
Provide proper training to your managers, supervisors and other employees andlet them know that no form of discrimination shall be tolerated within the organization. Educate them about the company policies and train them on how to handle discrimination at work, how to report them and what are the channels for expressing grievances.
- Educate Your Employees
Educate your employees about the EEOC laws. It is mandatory for employers to make the anti-discrimination laws clearly visible to all the employees throughout the workplace. Use multiple languages to ensure that every employee understands how the company is committed to following the workplace discrimination laws. Also, provide them with resources so they can get good knowledge of their rights and responsibilities.
- Take Every Complaint Seriously
It’s important to ensure that no discrimination complaint is ignored. Hold your managers and supervisors responsible. When an employee pursues their grievances through legal representation, the law carefully analyzes the company’s response to the complaint. Therefore handling every complaint sincerely and seriously is extremely important.
- Provide Accommodation
In certain instances the employers must provide adequate accommodation to the employees against their discrimination complaints. This is mandated by the law and reasonable requests made by employees, be it in case of disability or pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, need to considered by the management. However, the law also suggests that the accommodation doesn’t need to cause undue hardships on the business.
- Document Everything
While investigating a complaint, it’s crucial to keep a detailed record of everything. This could prove to be very helpful in defending the company in case of litigation. Detailed records show that the company took appropriate actions in compliance with the workplace discrimination laws and has put adequate efforts to provide the requested accommodation.
- Avoid Delays
Never delay reviewing a discrimination complaint or accommodation request. Delaying not only worsens the entire matter but also sends a message that dealing with discrimination in the workplace is not of high priority for the organization. Your employees must know that the company doesn’t tolerate discrimination in any form and complaints are handled swiftly in compliance with the law to work out the best possible solution.
- Follow Up
Responding to a complaint and taking appropriate actions isn’t enough. The management must also follow up with the employees to ensure that the matter has been resolved efficiently.This is also important to let the aggrieved employee know that the company is willing to create a discrimination-free and safe workplace and is putting best efforts to meet employee expectations.
- Handle Terminations Carefully
According to the law, discrimination is prohibited in all parts of employment which also includes termination. If an employer wrongfully terminates an employee, the company could face costly lawsuits. It might also damage the employee morale and company reputation. Managers and supervisors must be well aware of such consequences and should follow proper protocol if they are considering termination of any employee.
- Do Not Retaliate
Retaliation is also prohibited by the federal and state laws. Taking an adverse action against an employee in relation to their participation in the discrimination proceedings or complaints constitutes retaliation. Retaliation claims can be damaging for the company.
- Practice Prevention
Prevention is the key to a discrimination free workplace. Preventing acts of discrimination right from the beginning is always more beneficial for the employers as well as employees. Take proper preventive measures, demonstrate appropriate workplace behaviors, train your employees and ensure full support of the management to avoid such instances.
As an employer it’s important and a legal obligation to provide a discrimination free workplace to your employees. What steps your company is taking to ensure the same? Please share your views in the comment section below.