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Preventing Harassment & Discrimination in the Workplace

What defines harassment in the workplace?

Harassment is repeated, unwanted actions by one person toward, or around, another person. It might be occasional comments toward a female employee about her appearance. It can also be sharing inappropriate jokes, pictures, or videos in conversation at the office or in work email. Harassment is when an employee, or even an outside delivery person, repeatedly asks the receptionist for a date, even after being told no. It’s also when an employee or boss physically touches another person without his or her permission. And harassment is also the employee or boss who verbally berates others in the workplace or through office communications.

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is unjust treatment of people based on their gender, race, ethnicity, or religion. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents this kind of discrimination, and additional laws protect individuals from unjust treatment based on their sexual orientation, disability, age, or pregnancy.

In today’s work environment it’s crucial to identify harassment and discrimination, and establish policies against both. Harassment and discrimination are illegal and they create a hostile and uncomfortable work environment. They can also subject your business to preventable litigation.

How can a business protect itself from harassment or discrimination complaints and lawsuits?

Here are some basic guidelines:

  • Employees and contractors should be notified who they can talk to in the organization about harassment or discrimination.
  • The person handling complaints should be trained to handle verbal and written complaints confidentially.
  • The immediate supervisor shouldn’t be involved in managing harassment or discrimination complaints.
  • Managers should receive training on their responsibilities to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace.
  • All employees should be educated about what constitutes harassment and discrimination.

Harassment and discrimination are complicated subjects. Kelly Miller Insurance Associates’ Risk Management Team are here to help you reduce the risk of complaints against your business. Contact us at (916) 652-3100 or email info@kellymillerinsurance.com.

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