One of the most important responsibilities of an employer is protecting employees from workplace harassment and discrimination. When left unchecked, such harassment and discrimination can fester within a company, and lead to a toxic workplace culture.
When it comes to discussing toxic workplace culture, Amazon is often at the forefront. The Seattle-based giant continues to face multiple accusations related to racial and gender discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against anyone who complains about such behavior.
Sexual harassment, discrimination
The latest such cases filed on May 19 against Amazon involve separate lawsuits from five women who worked in various capacities at the company from warehouse management to corporate. Ranging in age from 23 to 64, the women allege that White managers retaliated against them after filing complaints about sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Two of the plaintiffs are Black, while the others are Asian American, Latina and White.
Earlier in March, a Black female employee at Amazon filed a lawsuit in which she contended that the company passed her and other Black employees over for higher-level positions and paid them less money than their White co-workers.
Steps that victims should take
If you find yourself in a similar situation as the women in these cases, here are some important steps to take when subjected to workplace harassment and discrimination:
- Keep careful records of every questionable incident. Make sure to note the dates, times and locations of every incident. Maintain a detailed narrative about each incident, while noting the names of any witnesses. Do so in a notebook or at your home computer. Avoid using a workplace computer.
- Retain all emails regarding such workplace behavior. In cases of sexual harassment, also save any harassing texts and screenshots of social media posts.
- Study the employer’s handbook or “owner’s manual” to gain a better understanding of the company’s policy related to discrimination and harassment. Having that knowledge may prove beneficial.
- Contact a trusted person. This may be your manager or a human resources (HR) representative. However, if the perpetrator is your manager, go straight to HR. But, remember, HR typically represents the company, not you.
Victims of workplace harassment and discrimination deserve to be heard. Employers should value them and support them when such challenges surface, but they often do not. By not taking immediate action to remedy such situations, employers are complicit and must face any legal consequence.