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How to address discrimination in your company

On Behalf of | Sep 17, 2022 | Business Law

Identifying, preventing and correcting discriminatory practices is essential for Kentucky business owners who want to avoid employee lawsuits. Discrimination can be conscious or unconscious but it is always unacceptable.

Avoiding a lawsuit involves educating yourself and your team about Kentucky’s anti-discrimination laws and implementing stringent policies.

What is workplace discrimination?

Workplace discrimination occurs when employers treat staff members with specific characteristics unfavorably or differently from other employees. For example, federal and Kentucky laws prohibit employers from discriminating against job applicants and employees based on race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, membership in a Native American tribe, pregnancy and disability. In addition, under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act, it is unlawful to discriminate against employees with HIV or AIDS, black lung disease, workers’ compensation claims and other statuses.

What anti-discrimination measures should you take?

Having a strategy to prevent discrimination benefits your company and your employees. Start by familiarizing yourself with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s guidelines regarding hiring practices, including how to write job ads, conduct background checks, administer competency tests and extend employment offers to ensure equity and respect for all candidates.

It is also necessary to update your employee handbook periodically with the latest state and federal anti-discrimination laws and policies, and your company’s standards for professionalism and guidelines for reporting discrimination claims. Formal diversity training seminars for your staff are helpful, though the state does not mandate them for businesses.

Finally, a zero-tolerance policy is essential for responding to charges of discrimination and serving as a deterrent for future behavior. Whether you or your staff members face accusations, it is essential to have a formal plan in place to investigate the charges.

Taking steps to promote an inclusive environment at your company can benefit your employees’ morale and your business’s reputation and finances.