Preventing Discrimination Lawsuits In Workplace
Sometimes its very difficult when you have a business to know what is going to rub someone the wrong way when you are advertising or writing descriptions of the products you sell. Its easy enough to make the mistake of attempting to describe a product as one that will appeal to certain groups of people and causing others to feel you are discriminating. Cosmetics and hair products that are designed for Hispanics and blacks are the most common. Sometimes its difficult to know how to write a description of a product without offending someone, so you must be very choosy with the words you use.
Besides, advertising employment is another area that faces discrimination lawsuits on a regular basis. Although some of the cases are valid, most are frivolous cases that involve a disgruntled employee who has been overlooked for a promotion or has been reprimanded for job related issues and is looking for something to justify their anger. Employers have to be very careful today to make sure that any time they have dealings with a minority employee over promotions or job performance, they have the documentation to back up their decision.
For example, if you have a choice between a black and white employee for a promotion and they are equally qualified, do not use seniority as an issue if that is not your customary policy. In this case, to avoid a potential lawsuit, you must look at other issues such as punctuality, loss of time, production standards if applicable, ability to work well with others and overall attitude. Although you may believe that because you own your own store, you can choose your customers, that is only partially true.
If someone comes in to buy something and is belligerent and unruly, you have the right to ask him or her to leave but on the other hand, you cannot refuse to sell to someone because of his or her race, religion or national origin. You can not put a sign in your window that says you refuse to serve certain groups of people. If you own a bar, you can refuse to serve people who are already intoxicated but you can not refuse to serve Italians for example. On the same score, you can not remove blacks that become unruly while letting whites stay no matter how boisterous they become. The rules you make must pertain to everyone or you open yourself up to a lawsuit.
On the other hand, that does not mean you can not open a hair salon that is predominantly for black women as long as you do not refuse service to other groups who may wish to use that shop. After all, some women from other ethnic groups may wish to use the shop just for a hair cut or style without needing the special treatments that the texture of a black womans hair needs. Its important to understand all of the issues surrounding potential discrimination lawsuits in order to avoid them.
Obinna Heche: Los Angeles- California
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