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Avoiding Discrimination: A Checklist for Business Owners

Although few people actively plan to discriminate against others in the workplace, thousands of Americans still find it necessary to file EEOC lawsuits each year.  And while some of these claims may be spurious, a large percentage of them appear to reflect the poorly hidden racial, gender, disability and other biases that still exist in this country. (“EEOC” stands for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).

Now, there’s a relatively new type of discrimination that employers must avoid committing. It has to do with the personal genetic information that many people are now obtaining while fighting complicated medical issues. Unfortunately, there’s a real threat that if people’s genetic information is revealed (or reviewed) by employers while paying medical bills, those shown to currently have serious genetic illnesses (or predispositions to develop them) could lose their jobs, along with their employer-provided medical insurance.                                              

Due to this new form of potential discrimination, President George W. Bush signed the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA). Already, a growing number of people are choosing to file EEOC claims on this basis.

Be sure to review the most common types of workplace discrimination listed below with all of your supervisory employees. You’ll need their help to prevent such illegal behavior.

Workplace Discrimination is Often Based Upon the Following Traits/Beliefs/Conditions

  • Age
  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Pregnancy
  • Sex/Gender
  • Disability
  • Equal Pay Issues
  • Retaliation Related ONly to tTitle VII Cases Already Filed
  • Retaliation Related to All Other Types of Discrimination Lawsuits Already Filed
  • Sexual Harassment
  • National Orgin

As you may already know, all employers have a legal duty to provide some type of anti-discrimination training for their workers in order to reduce the chances of anyone experiencing this type of mistreatment. It remains a very complicated problem since it often involves people’s unconscious actions tied to deep-seated biases. Consider contacting the EEOC or another government group to help you create an appropriate training program for your employees.                 

The following list references when discriminatory acts are most likely to occur during common workplace activities. If you’ll share this information with your staff, it may help cut down on the chances of any employees committing this offensive behavior and possibly subjecting you to lawsuits.

When Discriminatory Bias Most Often Occurs in Business Settings

  • During the recruiting stage (it can even be tied where job ads are run). Whenever possible, try have several employees interview each job candidate in order to limit the effect of any one person’s biases against particular applicants;

  • When making job assignments. Far too often, supervisors may choose to assign the best or most complicated tasks to those of a certain race or gender -- based upon their own faulty beliefs or biases;

  • During business meetings. Give serious consideration to each person’s suggestions. Offer meaningful explanations when you are definitely opposed to topics brought up by employees. Other workers often take their cues on how to treat one another by watching how bosses and supervisors interact with each person. Try to show the same degree of respect to all of your workers.

  • When deciding who should be promoted.  Each person deserves a fair chance to take on new challenges. When this privilege is denied, it may be due to subtle biases or discriminatory tendencies.  If you have serious concerns about an employee’s abilities, honor them by setting up a time to discuss your concerns and offer to help them improve their work;

  • When performance reviews are conducted. Try to use the same standards for evaluating each employee’s handling of his/her job duties.

     

Be sure to remind all of your supervisory personnel to regularly monitor all workplace interactions between employees. If they have any special concerns, make sure they know they must immediately report them so that no one will be subjected to discriminatory behavior.

To obtain help with handling all of your Georgia business planning needs, please contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith today.  You can schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable Peachtree City estate planning attorney by calling: (770) 487-8999.


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia