Employers in Texas and around the country have good reasons to be concerned about allegations of discrimination or harassment in the workplace. In addition to facing possible financial penalties, businesses thought to be discriminatory may have to contend with a public backlash and low worker morale. To prevent this from happening, business owners should become familiar with federal and state employment laws and have proactive policies put into place to ensure that they are complied with.
The most important federal law dealing with workplace discrimination is the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII of this act prohibits discrimination based on an individual's race, national origin, gender or religion. Other laws that employers should be aware of include the Equal Pay Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the FAmily and Medical Leave Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978. Some of these laws require the provision of reasonable accommodations under certain circumstances.
Employers may be able to reduce discrimination complaints by having written no-tolerance policies that are read and signed by every worker as part of their orientation. Workers should also understand the steps involved in filing a discrimination grievance.
Attorneys with experience in employer liability defense may help business owners to avoid discrimination or harassment complaints and lawsuits by reviewing their employee handbooks and personnel policies to ensure that they are compliant with federal laws. Attorneys could also provide guidance to human resources professionals about their legal responsibilities and ensure that any nondisclosure provisions in employment contracts adequately protect trade secrets and other proprietary information.