As a business owner and employer, you need to think of the possible risks your company faces on a daily basis. Obviously, you have concerns over whether your company will continue to thrive, whether you and your staff are making the right decisions, and how you can provide the best products or services out there. After all, you clients or customers are your main priority.
Of course, you do not want to ignore your employees. They often carry out much of the tasks necessary to keep your business operating smoothly. Therefore, you want to ensure that everyone feels safe, secure and appreciated while on the job. However, the risk does exist that an employee could feel that he or she has faced discrimination on the job, and such accusations could lead to serious issues for everyone involved.
Preventing workplace discrimination
Fortunately, as an employer, you can take steps from the beginning to help prevent or at least lessen the likelihood of your workers feeling discriminated against. To educate yourself, you can obtain information on workplace discrimination from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and work to understand what actions could come across as discriminatory. Once you feel knowledgeable, you will want to face your duty of educating your staff.
You can work toward helping your employees understand and avoid discriminatory actions by taking the following actions:
- Create an employee handbook: While your handbook can contain various information, it should include your policies for avoiding discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace. In addition to clearly stating the unacceptable nature of such actions, your handbook should also include methods for reporting these acts should they occur.
- Create a welcoming environment: You should also make it clear in any job descriptions, evaluations and planning processes that discrimination and intolerance are not accepted.
- Provide necessary and periodic training: As the company owner and operator, it is your responsibility to ensure that your management staff and other workers know how to recognize and stop discriminatory actions. Make sure they understand the policies, complaint procedures, ways to handle complaints and possible repercussions for discrimination.
Training in particular can act as a useful tool in preventing discrimination, but a one-time training session may not be enough. You may want to ensure that you have mandatory refresher courses periodically to keep everyone up to date.
Dealing with a claim
If a claim of discrimination does come about, hopefully you and your staff can address the issues internally and reach acceptable results. However, a particularly disgruntled employee could feel the need to take legal action, and if your company faces a discrimination lawsuit, you may need to explore your defense options.