Workplace discrimination is a burning issue faced by employers every day. Treating a person unfairly or displaying any kind of prejudice is termed as discrimination. Different types of workplace discrimination may make the employee feel unsafe and uncomfortable. This feeling of prejudice or discrimination can have an adverse impact on the psychological well being of the employee and can impact the overall performance at work.
Now, more than ever, right from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies everyone is working towards eliminating any form of workplace harassment, workplace bullying, or discrimination. Though there are well-defined workplace discrimination laws in place, most businesses are unsure about what can be termed as discrimination and what is not.
The law mandates employers to protect their employees from any form of workplace discrimination or workplace harassment. In some instances, the employer can cause prejudice or create an environment of workplace inequality. However, there are cases where workplace bullying or discrimination is carried out by other employees. It is the duty of the employer to prevent any form of discrimination in the workplace.
They need to incorporate a few simple measures and make some policy decisions that need to be implemented to avoid any form of workplace discrimination. Before understanding what are the ways to prevent discrimination in the workplace, let us understand what qualifies as discrimination in the workplace?
What is Workplace discrimination? What does workplace discrimination look like?
When a person or group is treated less favorably in comparison to another person or group because of their circumstances or personal characteristics, it is known as discrimination. Workplace discrimination takes place when an individual or group of individuals is treated unfairly or with prejudice by someone from outside their protected class.
For example, an employee is discriminated against or treated differently because of their gender or sexual orientation or an instance when a person of a certain religion is not hired by the employer due to his own prejudice.
What are the 4 types of discrimination?
The 4 main types of workplace discrimination are:
- Direct discrimination
- Indirect discrimination
What is the workplace discrimination law in California?
California has one of the most comprehensive laws against employment discrimination in the country. The Fair Employment and Housing Act (known as “FEHA”) protects California employees against a form of discrimination at work. The law does not allow any kind of discrimination against factors like race, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, veteran status, and age (if the employee is over 40).
How to Prevent Workplace Discrimination?
- Define the rules
It is important to clearly define the rules to prevent any form of discrimination at work. Every business should have an employee handbook, explaining the benefits offered by the company and the rules applicable to all.
Policies against any form of workplace discrimination should be mentioned in the employee handbook. Every employee should be handed the employee handbook on hiring, and they should sign a receipt of acknowledgment and acceptance of the rules.
- Wide Range of possible Discriminatory Acts
Workplace discrimination is not just about racial discrimination or gender inequality. It covers various issues like religion, age, disability, caste, etc. The company policy should include a wide range of possible discriminatory acts.
- Complaint policy and procedure
The discrimination policy should also define the procedure which the employees need to follow to file a complaint. The policy should define how discrimination complaints would be handled, what kind of investigation would be undertaken, what disciplinary action would be taken etc.
Having a discrimination policy written and distributed is not sufficient to curtail discrimination incidents in the company. It is important to hold training sessions for the employees and define what constitutes discrimination or harassment.
Training will help in breaking down misconceptions in the minds of the employees regarding what is acceptable and what is not with regard to language or behavior. Training could include role-plays to help review words or actions which can be triggers for different people.
It can be very helpful to hold team-building exercises and events which allow the employees to interact with each other and get to know each other better.
- Be Consistent
It is important that managers or HR handle complaints or allegations of discrimination consistently and without any bias. They should follow the protocol defined in the employee handbook, so the treatment is consistent for all employees. Provide training to people who are in the position to receive complaints, on how to effectively handle the issue.
- Be Fair
The language and approach towards a discrimination complaint should be fair and non-accusatory. The disciplinary action taken should follow the protocol defined in the employee handbook.
The treatment of complaint should be the same for all, whether the employee is a low ranking officer or the CEO of the company. All complaints and actions should be documented in the human resource file.
Filing a Workplace Discrimination Case
As a victim of workplace harassment or workplace bullying, you can file a complaint with your employer. However, if your company has not workplace discrimination policies in place, you may not be able to make your case or find justice.
As a victim, you may be emotionally distressed and not in the right frame of mind. Your judgment may be clouded and you may slip up on something important regarding your case. In such circumstances, it is important to get help from a professional lawyer who can ensure you get the justice you deserve.
The conditions for pursuing and filing a discrimination claim are extremely complex and confusing. One needs to follow strict filing deadlines and also complete strict documentation procedures. Our team of highly qualified lawyers at Khashan Law has a thorough understanding of the procedure for discrimination in the workplace case and will guide your case accordingly.
Contact our workplace discrimination lawyers for a free and confidential consultation before filing your claim. Contact us at (951) 461-2387 today.
The information in this article is not legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law.
- EEOC. “Discrimination by Type.” Accessed December 20, 2020.
- EEOC. “Retaliation.” Accessed December 20, 2020.
- EEOC. “Who is Protected From Employment Discrimination?” Accessed December 20, 2020.
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” December 20, 2020.
- EEOC. “Harassment. Accessed December 20, 2020.