The Essential Guide to Handling Workplace Harassment & Discrimination
By: Deborah C. England
Publication Date: October 2009
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: January 25, 2010
If you are an employer, you will want to be well versed in harassment and discrimination issues. For example antidiscrimination laws do now apply in all circumstances. Most people now know that when a boss directly tells an employee that she must sleep with him or she will be fired that is sexual harassment. Legally this sort of exchange is called quid pro quo and is virtually nonexistent now, but what about other types of harassment? An employer should know the differences between harassment and discrimination and be able to train employees about these differences as well. For example, some "conduct may be inappropriate even if it isn't illegal." Additionally, disparate treatment of employees is a form of discrimination and could have dire consequences for a company.
There are certain bad business practices that should be avoided such as dating an employee. That is not illegal and there are certain bosses the author notes who are "undiscriminating jerks" who may treat everyone badly, but in reality are not discriminating. This book will help the manager distinguish between these types of circumstances and those which are truly illegal. This book is not meant to be an end all, nor a specific legal text, but one to guide and inform the employer. For example, can you distinguish, as an employer the difference between "social snubbing" and a retaliatory "violation of company policy." There are numerous sidebars in this book that can be quickly and easily read to give the employer situational overviews of problems that he or she may already be experiencing.
Listening to the CD-ROM will give the reader a good starting point of reference. One of the most interesting sections was the "Bad Job Interview Scenario." This section clearly shows a discriminatory approach to dealing with an employee or a potential one. Forms (4 MB) can be printed out and kept on hand (Litigation Calendar, Intake Form-Employee Complaint, policies, etc.). In the appendix there is a very useful state-by-state chart of laws that "prohibit discrimination and harassment" and lists of enforcement agencies.
I feel this would be an excellent book for any manager to have on hand, not just to place on a shelf, but to actually develop an effective antidiscrimination and harassment policy for their company. The basics are presented, including forms and training suggestions. If problems do arise, this book would be a good solid reference to look to prior to seeking legal advice if necessary. In addition, this book would be an excellent guide for employees to reference and has essentials such as how to document a complaint (this material can be looked at from opposing points of view). In the back matter there is an excellent, extensive index that I found very useful. There are clear instructions on how to install the files onto your computer (Macintosh, Windows XP and Vista).
Quill says: This is a guide that should be on the shelves of every place of employment to be referenced by employer and employees alike!