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Training: An Important Factor For Preventing Race Discrimination

An African-American woman alleges that race discrimination is pervasive at the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation, her former employer. The woman filed a lawsuit against the foundation, which operates the Yorktown Revolutionary War battlefield and the Jamestown Settlement. She worked part-time as a historical interpreter before she was terminated.

According to the lawsuit, the employer "has a history of discriminating against its African-American employees." The woman alleges that the organization subjected her to race discrimination and a hostile work environment before wrongfully terminating her. "Ex-interpreter sues Jamestown Settlement for discrimination" (Nov. 08, 2018).

Commentary and Checklist

Staff training is a core component for preventing discrimination and limiting family employer liability. 

Although statistics are not available, it is believed that many family employers do not train their staff on anti-discrimination matters and, if they do, they train sporadically.  

To effectively lower risk, discrimination prevention training should be conducted at least every year.

Second, the training should present many examples of both forbidden conduct and positive, supportive conduct so that staff members of all levels can apply the training to their workplace.

Your policies prohibiting wrongful conduct, like discrimination, should be reviewed at every training. Make sure staff has several reporting methods available and understands that reports of discrimination or harassment will be investigated.

Here are some additional ways family employers can prevent race discrimination:

   •     Create and enforce a well-written policy that prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of race or color, including racist statements, remarks, jokes, symbols, gestures, and threats.

   •     Promote an inclusive culture in the workplace by fostering an environment of professionalism and respect for personal differences.

   •     Establish neutral and objective criteria to avoid subjective employment decisions based on stereotypes or hidden biases.

   •     Train staff on your anti-discrimination policy, and encourage them to report wrongdoing, including all forms of race discrimination.

   •     Make sure staff understands if they engage in race discrimination or harassment of any kind, discipline may include termination.

   •     Create a method of open reporting whereby staff can report "up the chain" if reporting to a manager or supervisor presents difficulties. If possible, provide a toll-free number for staff to anonymously report wrongdoing to a third party.

   •     Quickly investigate all reports of insensitive or hateful behavior, race discrimination or harassment, or a hostile work environment.

   •     Take decisive remedial action when discrimination occurs.

   •     Be sure to protect those who make claims of discrimination from any form of retaliation. Take all complaints of retaliation seriously and respond quickly.

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