Employment discrimination laws seek to prevent discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, physical disability, and age by employers. Discriminatory practices include exhibiting a bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, compensation, and various forms of harassment.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported 72,302 individual discrimination charge filings in 1992. By 2004, the number had grown to 79,432. As a Human Resource Manager or business owner, you may be able to reduce your chances of an employee suing you by instituting the following policies and practices:
1. Hire employees without consideration of their race, national origin, gender or age.
2. The handicap of an applicant should only be considered in the context of whether it will impede their job performance. It is important to take into account whether or not you could reasonably accommodate the individual’s handicap so that they could perform the job.
3. If you are turning down an applicant because of something on their reference or security check, you should inform them of the reason why.
4. Have written job descriptions, including qualifications and requirements for all positions within your company.
5. Post all job openings and promote without any bias.
6. Review all current benefit, pension and retirement plans for any discriminatory language.
7. Inform employees of performance standards and penalties for violating company policy.
8. Provide written reprimands and opportunities to correct deficiencies.
9. Evaluate all employees regularly and in writing. Provide a copy of the evaluation to the employee for their records.
10. Institute a zero-tolerance policy for discriminatory actions on the part of any employee.
One final important practice that you should follow is to document, in writing, every phase of an employee’s time with your company. From hiring to the firing/layoff/resignation, every step should be well documented. In the event that there is a lawsuit, courts will expect to see written records of important decisions, meetings, problems, and company policies. Additionally, they will want to see proof that you were treating all employees the same.
While there is no list that can cover all possible safeguards, instituting the policies and practices listed above can reduce your chances of facing a lawsuit. More importantly, they just represent sound business practices that any business with employees should follow.
Tom Perkins is a fitness business coach/advisor, radio host, speaker, author and certified personal trainer/fitness nutritionist with more than 30 years in the fitness industry as both a consumer, fitness professional, and business coach/advisor.
Having owned six startups since 1990 Tom provides fitness businesses and professionals with the systems, tools and support they need to get to the next level and beyond, as well as the freedom and income to enjoy a unique quality of life.