Employment discrimination has always been a major issue in the workplace. No matter the industry or office size, discrimination can take many forms and put businesses and their employees in uncomfortable positions. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, employment discrimination has seen a major surge in discussion and attention, bringing to mind what constitutes discrimination and how it should be handled both in the workplace and in legal settings.
According to the Federal Civil Rights Law, employment discrimination is prohibited on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, and religion. Another way employees are protected under this law, known as Title VII, is from retaliation from their employer. Among the 76,418 total workplace discrimination charges the agency received in 2018, 39,469 were for retaliation, accounting for nearly 52 percent of all charges filed.
But whether it’s retaliation or discrimination against sexual orientation, race or religion, it’s fair to ask why are employment discrimination cases seeing a rapid rise? Here are some things to think about:
One major reason why there have been more cases brought to court and more settlements made is because more people are looking into what exactly falls under employment discrimination. While laws were passed more than 50 years ago to protect different classes of workers, it’s only recently that the spotlight has been put on discrimination laws, bringing about a natural conversation. And in the last few years, more and more employees are discovering that what they have been experiencing at work can be counted as discrimination.
Furthermore, as employers increase training programs designed to prevent discrimination and harassment, people are starting to harken back to previous times where they have faced harassment in various forms. This increase in awareness doesn’t necessarily mean there has been an increase in bad behavior at work. Instead, it means that more people are educating themselves in this area and are starting to seek help.
Harassment in the Digital Age
Social media has completely changed the way we connect with each other, buy things, research travel ideas, look into real estate, etc. But it’s also been a sounding board for employment discrimination and a voice for those who are looking to be heard.
With the ability to spread news on social media, people can find out about harassment and discrimination cases that happened in different parts of the country or world to people they have never met. This can encourage people to feel like they are not alone in their struggles and can help lead them to the right resources to bring their own stories to the public space.
Panic from Employers
Employers are right in the middle of this growing issue alongside the employees. Even if there is only one story of discrimination and a company has a highly touted reputation as an inclusive and respectful workplace, it can still have a lasting effect on the company’s overall reputation.
Employers know that they can face major consequences for violating discrimination laws. If they take the course of action to retaliate against someone who brings up a complaint, they can see more trouble than if they were to have taken care of the issue the right way.
For companies who want to keep their legal issue risk low while also respecting their employees as a whole, they should avoid any steps toward denying a claim and retaliating against someone. Responsible employers should invest in insurance, such as EPLI, to keep their financial status protected and help to pick up the pieces following a discrimination lawsuit. But they should also be minding how they receive each claim when they arise.
Just by listening to employees and being willing to have a conversation with them about a complaint can help to keep a business’s reputation intact while also respecting their employees’ ordeals in the process.
About Axis Insurance
At Axis Insurance Services, we aim to help our customers identify their exposures and protect themselves. Founded in 1999, we offer insurance programs to a wide variety of professionals and industries including attorneys, real estate, healthcare, architects, and more, and also have a wholesale division. We pride ourselves on offering flexible insurance coverage tailored specifically to each customer’s needs. To learn more about our solutions, contact us at (877) 787-5258 to speak with one of our professionals.