In order to have a productive work space, everyone should work together as a team and everyone should feel welcome. Discrimination against race, age, gender and sexual orientation should be avoided at all costs. However, sexual orientation can be a little tricky due to the fact that it is a very hot-button issue in American politics and the law varies from one state to the next. Additionally, some cities have laws on the books that differ from state and national laws. Some companies also may have policies that differ greatly. Plus, the laws on this issue are changing all the time, so it is an ever-evolving topic. Consult with a legal expert to make sure you are remaining on the right side of the law and be proactive when it comes to addressing sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace.
Keep All Your Employees Informed
Depending on the size of your company, you may have a number of departments and individuals working under you. You should never assume that everyone is as privy to the same legal information as you are, so you should be active in informing everyone of what the law is regarding discrimination in the workplace. This can involve giving new hires documents about how others should be treated at work. In the event that the law changes in your state or city, it can be beneficial to make an announcement about the new law and how it will be implemented within your organization.
Keep Your Own Prejudices in Check
While you should work on eliminating any prejudices you might have regarding a certain group of people, sometimes employers or hiring managers have biases that cannot be controlled. If you feel like you cannot set your own personal biases aside during the hiring process, then it might be best to bring in someone to help you with the hire. An unbiased viewpoint will allow you to hire the most qualified person for the job. It is also crucial to bear in mind that it is illegal to inquire about someone’s sexual orientation during the interview. The only time you would really be knowledgeable of that information is if the interviewee willingly offers it, and if that happens, do not delve any deeper into the matter. That information should not affect your ultimate decision in the slightest.
Take Every Allegation Seriously
If someone approaches you stating that he or she feels discriminated against because of his or her sexual orientation, then you need to take it seriously. People can be discriminated against in other aspects of work besides the initial hire, including:
- Invasion of privacy
- Negligent or intentional infliction of distress
- Assault and battery
- Breach of contract
Failing to properly address the issue on your own could lead the employee in question to take legal action against the company. This eats up a lot of resources, and it is always better to resolve a complaint in-house before it escalates further. The complaint needs to be investigated, and you need to document every aspect of the investigation. This is important in the event legal action is eventually taken so that you can clearly show what you did to handle the matter.
A Safe Environment for Everyone
People’s sexual orientations will have no impact on how well they can do the job they were hired to do. Whether someone is gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, pansexual or anything else, you should only look at the qualities that are relevant to the position at hand. Your responsibility as an employer is to promote a safe, supporting space for each and every employee. Have a system in place to deal with discrimination allegations so that people feel comfortable going to you to report any incidents.
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.