All employers are expected to handle claims of discrimination in an appropriate manner. Any discrimination or harassment that are based on a person's protected status is illegal. There are several things that businesses need to ensure their managers know. By taking a proactive stance against discrimination, you can protect your business.
All employers should have a clear policy that forbids anyone involved with the company from discriminating against people. This has to apply to employees, supervisors, vendors, customers and contractors. There are several statuses that are specifically included in laws forbidding discrimination. These include:
- Race, color, national origin or ethnicity
- Sex, pregnancy, gender identity or sexual orientation
- Age for people over 40
- Genetic information
On top of forbidding harassment and discrimination, you should have a clear plan for how managers and others should handle claims. These should include listening to the complaint and documenting it. Immediate action must be taken to secure the situation while an investigation takes place. These investigations can include speaking to witnesses or evaluating claims that were made. Outside parties might be necessary to look into what happened.
Make it clear that retaliation isn't ever appropriate when a person files a valid complaint. Managers and others can't take negative employment actions or create a hostile environment in the workplace to punish the person for making the complaint.
There will be times when an employee takes their complaints to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You need to ensure that your company is protected if this occurs. Sometimes, complaints filed with the EEOC are given approval to move forward with other legal actions, so be prepared for this possibility.