Employees have legal protections against workplace discrimination. These protections shield them from unfair treatment on the basis of a protected class.
However, discrimination still happens. And when it does, the actions employers do or do not take will dramatically affect whether they resolve or exacerbate the situation. Below are some common mistakes that employers make in these scenarios.
They do not take it seriously
When someone or reports discrimination to their boss, the expectation is that the company will take the matter seriously. Unfortunately, many do not.
Employers might fail to investigate or create a record of an incident. Some make little or no effort to change problematic relationships or environments. They might also say the wrong thing to an employee, like telling them they are overreacting or insisting they should just accept the discriminatory behavior.
Failing to take a complaint of discrimination seriously in these ways is harmful and could violate an employee’s rights.
They retaliate against the employee
Another mistake employers make is punishing the person who reports discrimination. Some examples include giving the employee a less desirable location or schedule, refusing to consider them as a candidate for promotions, or firing them for raising the issue.
These acts of retaliation violate an employee’s rights under federal, state, and local laws and may expose the company to liability.
They fail to consider larger implications
In some cases, discriminatory behaviors or statements are not isolated incidents. Employees may be too afraid to come forward with other complaints or feel that they have no control over a toxic work environment.
Employers make a mistake when they fail to consider the possibility that discrimination could be a more widespread issue. Or, they choose not to reassess their policies and procedures that could be contributing to a discriminatory environment in the workplace.
Getting the right response
If you are an employer, avoiding these mistakes is crucial. Not only can they be harmful to workers, but they can also trigger legal claims against you.
If you are an employee who has made a complaint about discrimination and feel that your employer’s response was inadequate or inappropriate, you should know that you have rights protecting you from discrimination and retaliation.
In either case, knowing the proper way to respond to discrimination is vital. An attorney can help you examine your options.