You may have heard that prevention is better than the cure, and that holds true when it comes to discrimination in the workplace. If your employees get involved in racial or other discrimination, it could turn into a legal fight and a loss of qualified workers. As the owner or manager of a business, there is a lot you can do to ensure everyone feels comfortable and safe in the work environment.
Tips for Prevention
One of the best ways you can prevent discrimination is by being an example to your employees. When you conduct interviews, be sure you never base your decisions on anything discriminatory. When you consider pay raises, look at your employees’ work ethic and qualifications. Of course, people only see what they want to see, so although you’re striving to be a good example, you might have to take other measures as well. Holding an anti-discrimination meeting at work is a good place to start. In your meeting, discuss the following.
- Humor about race or culture is offensive. It should never be tolerated, and that includes pranks, jokes or other forms of inappropriate humor that pokes fun at another individual.
- Being professional means accepting others and their differences. Those differences in individuals can often work together for the good of the company, and each employee should allow others to capitalize on what they do well and allow them to bring it to the team.
- Individuals who witness discrimination in any form should report it to management. Being proactive is one of the best ways to help prevent further incidents and allow the current situation to be handled effectively.
You should also create an anti-discrimination policy for the workplace. Print it and hang it in the office where everyone can review it from time to time. Print copies for each employee so they have one on hand should they ever wonder if they are in violation. You might even ask each individual to sign the policy, stating agreement to abide by the guidelines.
What to Do If Your Employees Do Discriminate
Whether you receive a tip or witness it yourself, discrimination should always be handled immediately. Make sure your employees know where to go and who to talk to if they are ever discriminated against. Give them the resources they need to feel safe letting the truth out.
There are state and federal laws that often have timelines associated with reporting discrimination. You should always be one step ahead of an employee who might file a complaint against your company. Deal with the individual who participated in the discrimination. Your policy should outline consequential steps to be taken following such a situation, and you should not hesitate to implement those consequences. Be open and honest with the person discriminated against, as well as the person who conducted it. Make sure they both understand that you stand against it and that your company does not tolerate it.
In some cases, the situation can be handled at a company level. You may be able to work it out on your own. In other cases, the individual at the receiving end of the discrimination will take it to an attorney. In that case, contact your company’s attorney as well. Work with the attorney through the situation to ensure no more laws are broken.
Protecting Your Employees
You can do everything in your power to avoid discrimination in the workplace, and you should. The problem is that it happens sometimes without your knowledge or without you being able to stop it. Make sure your employees know that they have resources. Make sure they know you stand on the side of safety and a comfortable environment for individuals of all races, cultures and abilities. In doing so, you will show that you value equality and will not condone any form of harassment.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.