Posted: October 17th, 2013
Checking Unfair or Inappropriate Discrimination in the Workplace
Checking Unfair or Inappropriate Discriminatory Practices in the Workplace
The most obvious task that the Human Resources Department is always identified with is to equip an organization with a qualified and competitive workforce. However, for the workforce to work in harmony it must be totally devoid of any form of harassment and discrimination. The human resources department of any organization is always entrusted with the duty of protecting employees from unfair treatment. It must ensure that all employees are working in a conducive environment free from any form of harassment. The human resources director must therefore establish rules and regulations meant to curb and punish any incidences of employee harassment. Identifying and correcting discrimination cases is not easy. The behavior is founded from deep within the perpetrator (England, 2009). The human resources department is therefore tasked with the odious responsibility of detecting early signs of harassment and unfair treatment and rooting them out. It is an important responsibility because it ensures that the workplace is comfortable. It also ensures that equity and fairness are always observed in the workplace.
For the above reasons, the human resource department must be vigilant in order to identify and stem out harassment at the workplace. It is crucial to set out rules and punishments if the rules are broken. Unfair and discriminatory practice against employees can cost a business a lot in terms of money and good will. When the management engages in discriminatory practice while promoting or rewarding employees, it de-motivates them. Disgruntled and demotivated workers will always perform below par leading to lower productivity by the firm or organization. The management may also discriminate on employees based on their gender and racial background. This may happen especially during recruitment. A qualified candidate may have their application turned down just because they are of a certain race. Some candidates may also be given preferential treatment just because they are men or women. Unfair and inappropriate discriminatory practices exist in many different forms at the workplace. Apart from discrimination, sometimes there are other forms of unfair practices such as harassment (England, 2009). Junior workers can sometimes be harassed by senior workers. A relatively new employee can be treated unfairly by employees who have stayed in the organization for a considerable period. Women and men alike may be sexually harassed at the workplace. Sexual favors can be traded for promotions or job placements. Junior employees can be coerced to grant managers sexual favors in order to keep their jobs. Examples of unfair and discriminatory practices are numerous and prevalent in the modern workplace.
Harassment at the workplace has widespread effects on the productivity of workers and the general atmosphere of the workplace (Paludi, Paludi & De Souza, 2011). Harassed workers will be less proactive than those who are not harassed. A human resource department that selects its candidates in a discriminatory manner will end up riddling the workforce with unqualified and incompetent personnel. Managers who are used to sexual favors will be ineffective in their supervisory responsibilities and will always encourage complacency in workers. A working environment whereby employees are continually harassed is filled with an air of suspicion and employees are always grumbling. The relationship between management and employees and among the employees themselves will always be unfriendly and unwelcoming. Harassment and discrimination also attract legal consequences. A disgruntled employee may decide to seek legal redress for cases of harassment perpetrated against him/her. Such a legal suit may cost the organization a lot of money in legal charges as most harassment cases are always against employers. A legal suit may also ruin the reputation of the organization hence portraying a bad picture to its stakeholders. If the company loses the suit, it stands to suffer a great deal financially, since it will be penalized for the infringement on an employee. Such lawsuits also discourage potential employees from seeking jobs from the company. This becomes a serious setback to the gains that might have been made by the company in establishing a credible workforce.
What then is the role of the human resources department in ensuring that a company avoids such a devastating consequences? The answer to this question lies in the degree of determination the department shows in tackling such a difficult task. Many organizations ignore such an important issue oblivious of the danger lurking and the massive losses they might incur (England, 2009). Many human resource departments also ignore this subject and assume that it is beyond their ability to rectify. In some cases, they let the senior most managers attend to cases of discrimination. The human resource department is the department that should be fully responsible in ensuring that the issue of discrimination is prevented, since it caters for employee development. The main reason why this should be the responsibility of the human resources department is because discriminatory practices and harassment are factors that directly affect employee development. Employees are entitled to a safe working place free from any form of harassment and unfair treatment. It is the responsibility of the human resource department to provide such a workplace.
The human resource director must therefore establish a policy that outlaws any form of harassment and unfair treatment (Paludi, Paludi & De Souza, 2011). The policy should stipulate all forms of discriminatory practices that employees should avoid. There should also be a framework through which employees can submit their grievances, and a clear outline of how such cases will be handled. It should also outline the kind of punishment that will be given to employees found to have violated the laid down rules and regulations. Accused employees should be allowed to make appeals if they are not satisfied with the way their cases have been handled. The human resources department should also organize trainings for management teams on the importance of avoiding discriminatory practice. Managers must be taught of the various forms of discrimination. They should be made aware of the immense damage they may cause the company if they were found to be engaging in such practices. The managers should also be educated on how to administer the company’s policy against discrimination and unfair practices. They should know that it is their responsibility to ensure that the work environment is free from any form of harassment or discrimination. All the organizations employees should also be exposed to a similar training to that of the managers. They should all understand the company policy on discrimination and also taught on the various ways to interact with their fellow employees. From the time of recruitment, an employee should be acquainted with the policy and notified on how they are supposed to conduct themselves as far as discrimination is concerned (Paludi, Paludi & De Souza, 2011).
The human resource department can easily prevent discrimination and unfair practices at the workplace. It has a duty to ensure that employees work in an environment that is free from harassment. It must also guarantee that the workplace will be comfortable enough for the achievement of the company’s goals and objectives. A human resource director who adopts the above steps in trying to prevent workplace discrimination can be assured of success. The ultimate goal of an organization is the achievement of its goals, and one of the ways to do this is by maintaining a motivated and comfortable work force.
England, D. C., & Nolo Press. (2009). The essential guide to handling workplace harassment & discrimination. Berkeley, Calif: Nolo
Paludi, M. A., Paludi, C. A., & DeSouza, E. (2011). Praeger handbook on understanding and preventing workplace discrimination. Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger.
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