It’s wise to follow the anti-discrimination law, unless you want a visit from the EEOC or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Of course, the key is training and more training to make sure that your leadership and your staff understand what it is and what the consequences are if they do not follow the law. Trust me when I tell you that if the EEOC determines you are not following the law it will cost you more than you can afford.
Let’s start with age discrimination. Anyone forty years or older are protected by the ADEA Act which stands for the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. I don’t know how old you are but forty is not that old. However, if leadership begins to use terms like “We need more young blood” or “We are a face paced environment – Can you keep up” may sink your ship. It isn’t so much the statement (could be harassment under certain circumstances) but if you act upon that statement with some type of negative employment action that will possibly cause an employee to take action. Steer clear from any jokes or terms that refer to older individuals.
The next anti-discrimination law that we will discuss is race and/or color discrimination. In other words just because someone is not of a particular race but you discriminate against them because they appear to be of that race because of their color you will find yourself in trouble. The point is clear behind the law and that is that discrimination is wrong and must not be a part of the workplace. National origin is also a part of the anti discrimination law. So, no matter what color or race someone is if you discriminate against them because they are from a specific country you are violating the law.
Another common form of discrimination is religion. Again, a catholic can discriminate against a protestant, or vice versa. If the reason for the negative action or behavior is based on someone’s religious beliefs then it is violating the law. Now I know that many people say things like “it’s not illegal if you don’t get caught” and to a degree it may be true. However, if we are allowing this type of behavior in our business sooner or later the violator will make a mistake that will cost you a great deal.
To insure that you don’t violate the anti-discrimination law that covers the above forms of discrimination but also harassment on the basis of sex, disability, or genetic information. Keep in mind that you can violate the law in your hiring practices also. In fact in most cases this is where it takes place. As an example an employer will find many reasons not to hire an older individual but behind the scenes that is the reason they were not hired. If the EEOC files a claim they will ask for all your applications and compare them to those that were hired. If there appears to be a trend that your business does not hire those over forty you may find yourself in trouble. This could apply to women versus men, whites versus blacks, etc.
The bottom line to this is that the anti-discrimination law is for those that allow harassment and discrimination in the workplace to go unchecked. If you establish policies and procedures that make it clear that any form of harassment or discrimination in your business will not be tolerated it will go a long way to insuring if a claim is made you will be in a better position to defend your business. Go the additional step by taking swift and appropriate action against those that do harass or discriminate and you are creating a positive workplace that will be productive and a great place to work. Remember turnover is very expensive.
Thank you and May God bless you and for reviewing this information on the anti-discrimination law.