Diversity in the Workplace
Just as individuals don’t want to put all of their 401(k) money into one type of investment, employers don’t want to place the future of their companies in the hands of one type of employee. Employers know they need both engineers and salespeople, for example, not just one group or the other. Organizations need all kinds of skills, personality traits, and life experiences to succeed. Workforce diversity can help ensure that a company has a broad variety of skills and experiences at its service.
At the same time though, diversity, for all of its benefits, can present challenges of its own. Overcoming those challenges requires employers and the HR personnel who work with them to have a firm understanding of the federal laws which cover issues of discrimination and harassment as well as any applicable state laws.
The most important federal laws dealing with discrimination are: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Equal Pay Act (EPA), and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
But it’s also important to remember that state and local governments have enacted a variety of equal employment measures, including a fair number which forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation. To that end, human resources personnel should talk with competent employment counsel to make sure they’re up to date on local requirements.
50 Employment Laws in 50 States, including Title VII equivalents
Important also to remember is that employers may not fire, demote, harass, or otherwise retaliate against an employee for filing a discrimination charge, participating in a discrimination proceeding, or otherwise opposing discrimination. The protection covers discrimination victims and those who aren’t victims but who take action against discrimination (for example, by testifying on behalf of a victim employee). Other laws also prohibit retaliation for exercising the rights they protect. For example, it’s against the law to retaliate against someone because he’s filed a workers’ compensation claim.
Basic Training for Supervisors – easy-to-read training guides, including diversity