A work environment should be a safe place where employees are able to work efficiently without fear of discrimination or retaliation. In fact, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 enacted and enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission prohibits employers from discriminating against employees due to their color, religion, race, disability, sex and national origin.
It is critical to uphold your employees’ rights on the job site. Not only does this help you avoid breaking discrimination laws or restrictions, but it also increases the efficiency and morale of workers.
A look at discrimination
Discrimination comes in many forms, including ageism, sexual harassment, racial bias and religious intolerance. Treating employees differently because they are pregnant, disabled or impaired in any way could lead to serious consequences. Incidents are harassment when they cause a hostile work environment.
The EEOC shows that employees filed more than 72,675 workplace discrimination claims in 2019 alone. This number may be even higher, as many workers are afraid to come forward due to threats of retaliation, job loss or other negative consequences.
A look at prevention
Rather than consistently being reactive to an ongoing problem, consider taking a proactive stance and helping to prevent the problem from occurring in the first place. There are steps you can take to minimize discrimination and harassment in your workplace. These include the following:
- Offer extensive, ongoing training educating employees on what harassment looks like, how an employee can report such acts and what the repercussions are for those who commit them.
- Have set procedures in place where employees can anonymously report acts of discrimination, and make sure there is no fear of retaliation.
- Investigate all reports of harassment and enact the right consequences to reduce behavior from happening in the future.
In addition to including discrimination and harassment procedures in your employee handbook, be sure to openly talk about it in meetings and trainings.