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Avoiding Racial Discrimination Claims in the Workplace

With an increasingly diverse workforce comes the higher likelihood of having to deal with racial discrimination claims.  Whether intentional or not, alleged discriminatory acts by employers can lead to discrimination claims and other serious consequences.  While many corporations have procedures in place for addressing allegations of discrimination, it is highly advised that employers implement specific strategies to avoid workplace discrimination in the first place.  The following are some helpful tips employers should consider:

  • Learn the legal definition of racial discrimination. Making potentially derogatory remarks or knowingly allowing employees to do so can constitute unlawful discrimination.
  • Become familiar with the different classes of people that are protected under the anti-discrimination laws.
  • Develop a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of discrimination and put the policy in writing for employees to review.  Give employees a copy of the policy and have them sign a statement acknowledging that they read and understood all of its terms.
  • Develop a procedure for investigating complaints, which should include an outline as to whom complaints should be made and how they will be confidentially addressed.
  • Provide diversity training for all levels of employees.  Such training can clarify the types of behavior that are considered inappropriate and offer solutions and strategies as to how a diverse workforce can function more effectively as a team.
  • When hiring, be sure to select employees based upon objective standards, such as their qualifications and references.
  • Keep copious notes and records of all grievances filed by and against employees.  This way, if you are ever accused of discrimination after having to either discipline or terminate an employee, there is evidence that it was based upon legitimate reasons.
  • Consult with an experienced labor and employment lawyer.  A seasoned attorney can assist employers in proactive planning and developing workplace policies and procedures to prevent discrimination claims.

Discrimination claims in the workplace continues to be a significant challenge for corporations.  The best way to avoid these issues – and to ensure compliance with all applicable laws – is to contact a qualified business employment attorney for guidance.

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