How to Avoid Workplace Discrimination

by | 15 Mar, 2021

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Although many laws have been passed throughout the decades, discrimination is still a problem in the workplace. Discrimination makes the office a tense and unpleasant place to work, and often unfairly removes the opportunity for society’s least represented groups. Races and genders can both be discriminated against and have their lives unfairly maligned by the presence of prejudice and internal assumptions in the workplace.

Your workplace needs to do everything in its power to ensure it’s not discriminating against any one group so that your workplace can become a more diverse and creative place to work and communicate. Discrimination most often occurs when someone is mistreated or viewed differently because of a physical attribute, such as their race or gender.

Even things you may think of as innocent such as jokes about stereotypes can be perceived as discrimination, as can judging based on their political reviews. Judgment should not be expressed in the workplace unless it directly relates to the job being done; to express judgment on someone while assuming or stereotyping them is textbook discrimination, and a stop should be put to this action at once.

Anti-Discrimination Policies

An anti-discrimination policy is a document that clearly spells out that discrimination of any type will not be tolerated within the workplace. There are a few different components to this document, including the assurance that your employees have a right to work in a professional environment, including maintaining professional standards which create equal opportunity.

Zero-tolerance policies are also common and state that any employee engaging in discriminatory policies will be immediately reprimanded. This type of policy also often includes sexual discrimination, such as making offensive jokes or making coworkers feel uncomfortable based on their gender.

In addition, employees should not be treated differently or mistreated because of any disabilities they may have, and the company should seek immediate retaliation against those who have had complaints filed against them. These policies are all outlined in anti-discrimination policies and help keep your office running smoothly and effectively.

The Importance of Acknowledging Discrimination

There are several personal and moral reasons you want to acknowledge and eliminate discrimination within your workplace. Hate should have no place in the office, but there are also business-centric reasons why hate should be eliminated. Eliminating hate and discrimination will help protect your brand and ensure that your employees feel safe while at work. 

Your business should clearly state what its values are, and these values will surely include the absence of hate, malice, or discrimination. Besides honoring your company’s values, you should avoid discrimination to better comply with both state and federal laws. There have been intense and sustained pushes over the decades to help minorities and other classes attain equality in the workplace, and the federal government takes its anti-discriminatory practices very seriously.

Anti-discrimination policies offer clarity for your employees on how to behave and treat each other in the workplace. The policy represents a guide on how to act and what not to do and not do when confronted with a range of situations.

How to Implement New Policies

There are a few different tips on implementing your new policy and approaching the topic of discrimination within the workplace. First, you should offer reasonable accommodations to anyone who needs them for medical or religious purposes. You should give all of your employees an avenue for clearly and immediately reporting discrimination when it happens. This clarity in communication will ensure your employees feel safe and equal within the workplace and are not mistreated based on their race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Ensure employees that they will not be punished for reporting discrimination and their reports will be confidential. When you receive complaints, they should be met with an immediate investigation, and those who have had a complaint filed against them should be alerted about the complaint, though it should stay anonymous. Give everyone in your office a responsibility to respect and respond to complaints, and to not cast judgment until the process is complete.

Equal Opportunity Employment

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave credence to the idea of “equal employment opportunity” or the idea that equal opportunity exists to attain employment from every company and corporation in the country. The 1964 act gives protections to any individuals who feel they’re being discriminated against and protects their rights in the event of an incident. These protections extend to a range of classes and identities, including sexual orientation and those who are transgender.

Employment discrimination can occur when employees are fired, hired, given promotions, or transfers. Your company must ensure that all promotions and punishments given are well based in merit, rather than discrimination. Any matter of race, sex, religion, or national origin must be closely monitored to ensure there is no discrimination involved, for the betterment of your company, and society as a whole.


Tom DiSilva
Tom DiSilva has been providing professional human resource services for over 30 years. As the CEO of Navigate PEO, he actively partners with organizations of all sizes in the Greater New England area and across the country to help their businesses grow. He has expertise in HR and Labor Management, offering guidance and support for key areas of business such as negotiations, operations management, employee coaching, and employee benefits design. He is an active member of The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), The National Association of Professional Employer Organizations (NAPEO), Professional Association of Co-Employers (PACE), and The American Payroll Association (APA). He is deeply committed to giving back to the community both personally and through Navigate Cares, which provides support for several nonprofit organizations such as the USO, The Boys & Girls Club, and the 3Point Foundation.

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Disclaimer: this article does not represent expert advice and is provided for informational purposes. Please get in touch if you would like expert HR advice.