With dramatic new developments in personal rights evolving rapidly, it is essential for small business owners to be aware of legal definitions and protections of potential minority groups, including those who may experience discrimination due to sexual harassment. According to Joel H. Schwartz, people who have been sexually harassed have legal rights that they may call upon. If it happened where you work, it could be a violation of both federal and state laws against gender discrimination as defined by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Employment Practices Act. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects employees against discrimination from company owners, administrators, or employees concerning color, ethnicity, race, religion, or sex. Companies are responsible for providing training to protect all employees from possible discriminatory or harassing treatment.
The following steps are often followed by organizations who promote the well-being of their employees on many levels as well as protect their legal rights.
Foster Employee Wellness
Successful companies include employee wellness as a valuable initiative. They believe that healthy employees are both happier and more productive. Programs focusing on weight management, nutritional eating, and smoking cessation are among those that encourage employees to adopt healthy lifestyles. Awareness of discrimination and/or harassment and how to avoid them, or report them if necessary, is typically included in program planning, just be sure not to fall into some of the common pitfalls of wellness programming.
Promote Healthy, Safe Interactions
Communication plays a vital role in business interactions, both internally and externally. Sometimes an easy camaraderie can develop, leading to casual conversations that occasionally strays into inappropriate territory. For example, an employee may tease a customer about her looks or her race, which she might find offensive. If she asks the employee to stop, but the teasing continues, that would constitute sexual harassment and could become the basis of a legal claim. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids any type of actual, or seeming, discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, and a host of other characteristics. Employers should provide training workshops to familiarize employees with sexual harassment behavior and how to prevent it. If you feel lost or a bit overwhelmed in how to implement ways for your employees to better learn about sexual harassment, perhaps look into HR consultations.
Maintain a Safe and Healthy Environment
Companies that respect their employees and customers create a physically and emotionally safe place to conduct business, and is incredibly necessary. They provide awareness coaching and sensitivity training to equip employees with the skills needed to communicate effectively in a diverse workplace. Everyone should feel respected, valued, and safe while on the job and be able to treat others the same way.
Discrimination by sex and a host of other traits is not only a social taboo, it’s also illegal. Awareness should be taught in every company to help employees avoid harassment issues that put their job and the company at legal risk and compromise professional relationships.