Discrimination lawsuits are costly, time-consuming, and generate bad press. While basic measures such as a strict anti-discrimination policy and training employees on avoiding discrimination are helpful, they may not be enough to protect a business from accusations of discrimination. Luckily, there are other policies and practices a business can implement to help avoid these accusations.
Careful documentation of disciplinary incidents in the workplace can help a business avoid discrimination accusations. Careful documentation can show that an employee was terminated for valid, non-discriminatory reasons. Although it is important for documentation to be thorough, businesses should be careful to avoid over-documentation in the time leading up to an employee’s termination. Over-documentation may be perceived as the business looking for a reason to fire that employee and open the business up to discrimination accusations. It is also helpful to document the reasons for non-hires to protect against discrimination claims that can arise from the hiring process.
Retaliation by a person’s place of employment is illegal and is the most common form of unlawful discrimination. Retaliation occurs when a business treats an employee unfavorably due to the employee reporting discrimination or being involved in a discrimination lawsuit. Treating an employee unfavorably includes denying them promotions or demoting them, intentionally giving them undesirable tasks, being overly critical of their work, or firing them without cause. In order to avoid retaliation, a business should have a strict anti-retaliation policy and train all employees on what constitutes retaliation and how to avoid it. Keep in mind that a business must avoid retaliation even in cases where the discrimination claim was unsubstantiated.
It is important to interview applicants carefully and purposefully in order to protect yourself from claims of discrimination during the hiring process. When interviewing applicants, ensure you ask every applicant the same questions and document their answers. Avoid questions regarding the applicant’s religion, background, marital status, disability, age, and whether or not they have or plan to have children. You should disregard any information the applicant offers you regarding these topics and avoid documenting such information. During the interview, try to keep the conversation relevant to the job in order to avoid tangents in which personal information may be offered. It is also a good practice to have more than one person in the room while conducting an interview so there is a witness other than the interviewer and the applicant.
Implementing these practices will help foster a diverse, discrimination-free work environment. Creating such an environment can help prevent discrimination complaints and lawsuits from arising. Although these practices don’t guarantee that a disgruntled applicant or employee won’t accuse you of workplace discrimination, following them gives you the tools necessary to defend yourself and/or your business in such an instance.
Another important strategy for avoiding discrimination in the workplace is implementing appropriate management strategies. Contact Wellness Works Management Partners about management solutions today!