Most states have passed laws that require equal employment opportunity to people by prohibiting discrimination. Equal employment opportunity means giving people a chance to succeed. It is a principle that expresses the fundamental principle of fairness.
In accordance with state civil rights laws, employers in California try to adhere to discrimination and harassment laws and enforce similar policies in their workplaces. Not only as a matter of law enforcement but implementing these rules can save employers from lawsuit and avoid possible costly legal battle.
Here are guidelines on how employers should handle discrimination and harassment complaints:
o Investigate complaints right away – Employers should keep an open mind and initiate an investigation whenever a complaint is lodged. Investigate every complaint and complete it.
o Treat the complainant with understanding and concern – Show your concern to the complainant and take every complaint seriously. An employee who complains about discrimination will not escalate his case to a court or a government agency if you show genuine concern for the cause.
o Do not blame the complainant – Employers should remember that the complainant is the victim in a discrimination or harassment complaint. Employers should not blame nor begrudge employees who complain of unfair treatment in the workplace.
o Do not punish complainants – Employers should not threaten complainants with termination, discipline, suspension, demotion or pay cuts. It is against the law to retaliate and punish someone for complaining against discrimination and harassment.
o Follow employee handbook on procedures – When faced with discrimination complaints, follow the policy and procedures and proceed with the investigations.
o Educate yourself – Read and make a personal study of discrimination laws and issues. Consult your lawyer to enlighten you in some issues, if possible.
o Interview the involved people – To get a clear and better picture of an issue, it is best to ask the people involved in the incident. The first part is talking to the complainant and then the other people mentioned in the complaint.
o Look for other sources and clues for information on the complaint – Employers should not rely on the complainant’s words alone but should look for other sources of information.
o Keep the matter confidential – An employer should keep matters undisclosed until the investigation is not concluded.
o Take note of all things that happened in the meeting, including dates and places of interviews.
o Cooperate with government agencies during investigations – Employers are asked to helped government agencies when conducting investigations to show impartiality to the proceeding.
o Hire an experienced investigator to look into the matter – An employer can hire an outside investigator who is independent and reliable.
o Take appropriate actions against the culprit – Once investigation is finished and the problem is identified, take the necessary measure, document it and notify the accused.
California law also requires employers to post their companies’ discrimination policies in public view. The state law also requires all supervisors to take a two-hour training program every two years to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation in the workplace. New supervisors are also asked to take the same training six months after hiring.