There has been widespread national publicity given to several class action lawsuits concerning workplace discrimination over recent years, and it behooves all of us to re-examine the diversity programs of our businesses to determine if we have been successful in creating tolerant and understanding workplaces.
As one of the most serious and challenging employment issues, workplace discrimination deserves to be carefully reviewed and considered. As it is typical for people of the same nationality, religion, or ethnicity to join together for events, religious services, socializing, and leisure activities – the workplace is commonly the only place where everyone from a multitude of backgrounds come together.
If the atmosphere of the workplace is not a tolerant one, then not only will the bottom line become adversely affected and morale diminished – but smoldering and unresolved issues could lead to harassment or discrimination lawsuits. These types of lawsuits are expensive, time consuming, and generate an abundance of negative publicity.
A review or your company’s workplace discrimination policy should begin with making sure that the policy is in writing and prohibits all forms of discrimination based on race, national origin, gender, sexual preference, and disability. A comprehensive policy includes prohibiting discrimination in the processes of hiring, promotions, and terminations. To be effective, the policy must be communicated to all employees so that all will appreciate the diversity of the workplace and not fear it. The management and the employees need to understand what denotes inappropriate behavior and how it causes a hostile environment for everyone. Some may need further training on what constitutes inappropriate jokes, touching, mannerisms, or actions towards others. Misunderstandings can lead to resentment, and a seemingly innocent joke or a minor occurrence could explode into a full-blown incident with devastating consequences for the business.
An additional course of action to take is to establish a clear channel of communication for all complaints, and once any complaint is made – it is to be responded to quickly, professionally, and fairly for all involved. The employees must understand the expectations set by your company regarding appropriate behavior and how everyone should be treated in the workplace. If your business fails to do this, a proper basis for corrective action will not be established and more negative actions may continue.
Although it can be difficult or uncomfortable to broach the subject of the many facets of discrimination, it is imperative to do so. Everyone needs to realize that they are part of the whole, and anyone who is part of the working team can be sued for harassment or discrimination. A workplace in harmony leads to a successful venture that all workers and the business owners will benefit from.
A company’s success takes teamwork
Over the years, The Floyd Law Firm has developed ongoing relationships with many of the business owners who have come to us for assistance with individual issues. Every business owner knows the damage that a dispute could do. You require an effective and efficient resolution that allows you to get back to doing what you do best – making the most of your business.