There are certain areas where an employer is required by law to provide training to employees and supervisors, no matter the industry. One area that a company must provide training in is in regard to discrimination laws. These laws are numerous and can be challenging to remember, so providing a training with handouts outlining all of the laws (in laymen’s terms) is helpful to reduce discrimination in the workplace.
There are several laws that exist that must be followed by companies of any size, and include, but are not limited to:
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act
- Immigration Reform and Control Act
- Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
- Civil Rights Act Title VII
- OlderWorkers Benefits Protection Act
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act
- Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
All employees, but especially supervisors and managers, should be trained on these laws because discrimination generally occurs during the following activities:
- Hiring Process
- Benefits Offering and Selection
- Compensation Offering
- Performance Reviews by Supervisors and/or Human Resources
- Workplace Environment
- Time-off Requests
Training Should Include:
- Defining what discrimination is (all types)
- Identifying what a protected class is
- Examples of what a protected class is
- Employer rights under these laws
- Employee rights under these laws
- Providing examples of what discrimination is
- Examples of how to maintain a discrimination-free work environment
- Company policy, including processes to report, investigate, and resolve discrimination claims
- Company policy on disciplinary actions if an employee is found to have discriminated
Training employees on what constitutes discrimination will help reduce claims as they may perceive something as discrimination when it is not without the training. Also, training employees on the process to report suspected claims will help employees feel more comfortable with reporting (and potentially diffusing) these claims quickly. Training supervisors on discrimination will help protect the company as they will be aware of what it is and how to avoid it before it happens. The company can and will be held liable if a discrimination claim is filed and can become quite costly with litigation.
In addition to this training, supervisors should be trained on what retaliation is, how it is illegal, and how to avoid retaliation against an employee. Maintaining an open-door policy by human resources will help encourage supervisors to ask if something would be considered discrimination and human resources can work with that supervisor on other potential options if the act is or could be construed as discriminatory.
Generally, a human resources representative would conduct discrimination training as they are (usually) more knowledgeable about applicable laws. Someone who knows and understands the laws should conduct the training so they can answer employee and supervisor questions.