Perhaps one of the most devastating things that can happen to a business owner is to be accused of discrimination by an employee. California has some of the widest reaching laws protecting workers from unfair treatment based on certain groups to which they belong. These protected categories include the following and others:
- Race or color
- Sex, gender or gender identity,
- Marital status or sexual orientation
- Medical conditions or disabilities
Discrimination in the workplace might include any harassment, mistreatment or unfair practices that stem from the employee’s membership in any of these categories. Discrimination may even occur before a person becomes an employee. For example, a business owner may not exclude a protected class when advertising for a job opening.
Avoiding discriminatory practices
The application and screening process, as well as the job interview, may not be more difficult or exclusive for one group than for another. Conditions in the workplace must not be hostile toward a protected group. All employees should have equal access to fair pay, training and opportunities to advance no matter their race, creed, age or other protected status. This might also include making reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.
Employment discrimination can have serious consequences, including harsh and costly legal ramifications. Therefore, it is wise for employers to have clear policies for avoiding any forms of discrimination and to have regular training so management complies with those policies. Having a trusted and reliable business advisor is another valuable resource for establishing a fair and consistent workplace environment and fighting baseless allegations of discrimination.