Employee Training Needed to Foster A Fair Workplace Environment
In our blog last month we cited that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) collected $372.1 million for victims of workplace discrimination for fiscal year 2013. As we stated, the EEOC appears to have taken an aggressive stance in its pursuit of discrimination claims, increasingly going after smaller employers. Discrimination cases involve allegations by employees of race, disability, sex and equal pay and retaliation. What can be done to help employers stem the tide of such discrimination allegations and cases?
First and foremost, in order to manage risk and to reduce liability, it is essential that middle and senior managers and supervisors receive comprehensive workplace training on the rights and responsibilities of employees. Managers should understand, for example, how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) intersect, as well as the rights of their employees. Supervisors need to know when these laws are implicated and when matters need to be referred to the Human Resources department. If a supervisor does not know and understand basic employment laws – from disability, wage and hour and discrimination to whistleblower and retaliation – this can lead a company down the path to litigation.
Training throughout the company should also focus on what is and is not appropriate workplace behavior. This includes a review of the most basic rules against harassment, discrimination and retaliation. Employees should know what behavior is expected of them, and that racial slurs, ethnic jokes and unwelcome touching will not be tolerated. Also, employees should be informed of where and how to complain about inappropriate workplace behavior, with alternative reporting options available. If employees are not comfortable speaking with a supervisor, for instance, they should be able to go to Human Resources or company executive with their concerns, or call a hotline that has been set up. If the complaint is founded, appropriate investigation and remedial action needs to be taken immediately. Moreover, employees should be reminded that everyone has an obligation to report illegal or inappropriate behavior and that anyone who steps forward will be protected from retaliation. Swift and decisive action needs to take place to weed out discrimination, harassment and other illegal behavior.
Employee training helps to create and maintain a workplace where employees are treated fairly. This, of course, will lead to improved morale, better production, less distraction, and the ability to recruit and retain the best talent. It will also help stem employee-related allegations and lawsuits.
Caitlin-Morgan offers Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) to businesses of all sizes. We can help you secure EPLI coverage for your insureds to respond in the event of a employee-related lawsuit involving allegations of wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, and other claims. Call us at: 877.226.1027.