The average person spends about a third of their life in their workplace, indicating that besides home, the workplace is where we spend the huge majority of our lives.
This is why it is so crucial that the place we work in needs to be a safe and healthy environment where we aren’t mistreated or harassed.
Harassment and discrimination in the workplace can come in many forms and shapes. Even though various federal laws prohibit discrimination against factors like race, color, sex, religion, and country of origin, many companies lack responsibility and management.
If you’re an employer trying to create a healthier work environment or an employee that deals with harassment, you need to understand the situation better, and here’s what you can do to diffuse it.
What You Can Do About Discrimination As a Business Owner
Create a Written Document that Describes the Rules
The first step towards preventing workplace discrimination is developing an apparent and clearly-written policy. The policy or handbook should be shared and placed in a visible area for all employees to see.
The policy must define the rules and procedures regarding discrimination and harassment, including how employee complaints can be submitted and resolved.
Educate Your Employees About Discrimination
Sometimes simply stating the issue in a policy might not be enough. Many states require businesses to hold anti-discriminatory training sessions regularly. It’s important to make your workers aware of the situation and inform them of the potential outcomes of discrimination.
It is suggested to have individual and separate training for lead managers, supervisors, and everyone in upper management. Since any incidents stem from higher authorities, it’s best to eliminate the problem before it even begins.
Develop a Safe Channel for Workers Complaints
In order to defuse a situation and prevent discrimination, you need to know about it in the first place. Thousands of sexual harassment and discriminatory incidents go unreported in businesses, typically due to a lack of proper and effective communication channels.
Having more than one channel option will ensure that the complaint process goes smoothly and get to the right person. In many cases, the supervisor who handles complaints indulges in discriminatory practices. It’s important that the complaint reaches upper management or Human Resouces.
How You Can Avoid Discrimination As an Employee
Report the Harassment Incident to Your Employer
When you’ve been harassed or discriminated against, the first thing you can do is make your employer aware of the incident. Your employer will most likely not help you file a claim or draft legal documents against the harasser. It’s still your responsibility to ensure that your personal rights are protected.
Contact Your State’s Fair Employment Practices Agency
If you don’t see any changes occurring, or your employer is ignoring your complaints and aren’t taking them seriously, consider making a report to the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or whichever agency deals with fair employment practices in your state.
Getting these agencies involved will incur a quicker response and help you bring attention to your case. When contacting an agency, it’s good to talk with an attorney or employ their services.
Keep a Detailed Report of Any Incidents of Discrimination
A written entry of the incident, stating when it happened, the location, people that were involved, including witnesses, and details of everything that was said or occurred, can be immensely helpful, especially if you’re planning on filing a charge.
Keep a diary and any objects, images, or messages sent given to you that you believe might have been discriminatory or harassing. You could either confiscate or take a picture of such items.