Employers are often held responsible for the actions of their employers through vicarious liability principles. However, one way to guard against claims of discrimination or harassment is to develop clear and effective nondiscrimination policies and to follow the instructions included in these plans.
Nondiscrimination policies may be included in an employee handbook or other document provided to employees when they are hired. The employer may identify itself as an “equal employment opportunity” employer and state that the employer does not discriminate on the basis of specified protected characteristics, such as race, color, religion, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or national origin. It may also state that these features will not be considered when making decisions regarding recruitment, employment, promotion, or termination.
Harassment should be included in these policies. The employer may state that he or she is committed to providing a harassment-free workplace and state that harassment will not be tolerated. It may include examples of various forms of harassment and the types of behaviors not permitted in the workplace, such as the use of racial slurs, sexually suggestive language, or retorts about an employee’s or applicant's religion.
These policies should indicate how an employee can make a report about harassment or discrimination in the workplace. A certain individual or department should be identified. Some employers may indicate that the employee should report discrimination to his or her immediate supervisor. However, additional provisions may be necessary in the event that the supervisor is the perpetrator, such as referring the employee to the supervisor’s direct management or the human resources department. Employers may be able to assert a defense against claims of workplace harassment if they can show that they had existing non-discrimination policies available and the employee failed to avail himself or herself of these policies.
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Cite this article: Lynch, N. (2017). Non-Discrimination Policies. Available: https://www.lynchlf.com/blog/non-discrimination-policies/