Expanding Non-Discrimination Policies During Times of Unrest

November 2020
Topics Allyship

This quick guide provides links to articles and resources that are related to policies designed to prevent racism and discrimination as well as steps employers can take to make sure those polices are effective.



Expanding NOn-Discrimination Policies During Times of Unrest

Often, what an employer can, should or cannot do to prevent racism and discrimination is not always clear. While employees are legally protected from being fired based on discrimination, employers are now grappling with broader issues. Can I terminate an employee based on statements made on social media? Can I discipline an employee for attending a rally? Can I demote a manager because of his or her actions outside the workplace? These are all difficult questions. Often the response will depend on an employer’s policies, consistency in discipline and the facts of each situation. In this guide, Expanding Non-Discrimination Policies During Times of Unrest, employers will be encouraged to revisit the wording and content of the company’s anti-discrimination/harassment policy and procedure, and ensure that the company’s prohibition of racial harassment and discrimination is emphasized. The policy can include specific examples of actions that could be considered racial harassment in the workplace, including brandishing Confederate flags and symbols, swastikas, nooses (yes, there have been cases in this century where nooses were left at the work stations of African American employees), and ‘friendly banter that could be perceived as having racial undertones. It is important to outline the company’s recognition of employees’ rights to discuss workplace issues, while underscoring the fact that discussions regarding non-workplace issues such as politics, religion or current events are not productive workplace time, can lead to unnecessary disagreements that impact productivity and morale, and are discouraged. Include a clearly written statement that employees who violate the company’s anti-discrimination/harassment policy will be subject to discipline, up to and including termination. Reiterate the company’s anti-discrimination/harassment policy and require all employees to acknowledge their understanding and agreement to abide by the terms included therein. To deal with behaviors outside of work, employers are encouraged to consider the following:


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