Business owners are required by law to protect employees from discrimination and must try to prevent many problems to keep the team performing optimally. Discrimination spans various issues, such as religion, gender, age, disability and citizenship, to name a few. A workplace anti-discrimination policy should cover a broad range of potential discriminatory acts, and should provide actionable methods to prevent unequal treatment in hiring and in work.
With the right systems and protocol in place (including Employment Practices Liability Insurance), you’ll find that not only can you prevent discrimination and other negative behaviors, but also you can cultivate a strong company environment, which helps the bottom line and improves employee happiness.
Clear and Consistent
Clearly established written rules are the first step toward preventing discrimination at work. Every business should have an employee handbook, explaining benefits such as holidays, benefits eligibility, and the rules for issues such as tardiness. Policies banning discrimination should be part of the handbook that every employee receives upon getting hired and then signs an acknowledgment of receipt.
Consistency shows that you expect everyone to be treated fairly and by the same standards. No one can come back and say you allowed one person to get away with a similar behavior, with only a warning and no disciplinary action.
Language must be fair and non-accusatory, while taking all complaints seriously and, with the proper investigative actions. Disciplinary action must follow protocol and be consistent for all employees, whether the employee is the janitor or the vice president of operations.
Protocol and Encouragement
Protocol is established in the employee manual, and managers must follow it. Provide additional training to those in positions of receiving complaints by subordinates to understand how to effectively handle the issue.
The discrimination policy should also set protocol that employees need to follow if they wish to lodge a complaint. This protocol starts with advising a team manager or a human resources manager. The protocol needs to outline how discrimination complaints are handled, from investigation through disciplinary action.
Hold team training sessions on what constitutes discrimination or harassment, to break down historical misconceptions of what is and is not acceptable language or behavior. Team-building exercises and events will help employees interact and understand each other better. This might include a diversity potluck that invites everyone to bring a dish from their cultural background.
Keep meetings positive but do take the time to review the company policies on discrimination. Be sure to keep a record of the training and what was discussed. Should an issue arise, you need to have documented everything you do to prevent discrimination, including reviewing policies and ongoing training.
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