One of the first things that employers provide to new employees is a copy of the company’s policies. These are standard rules that should apply to everyone in the workforce.
Taking a closer look at the policies might help you determine if these are a source of illegal actions. No worker should have to deal with any form of discrimination or harassment while they’re at work, regardless of the source.
How could policies lead to discrimination?
Company policies that have a negative impact only on specific groups of employees are illegal. Some of the protected groups that may be affected by such treatment include members of a particular ethnic group, gender, sex, religion, national origin or someone who has disabilities. For example, a sick leave policy that doesn’t allow a pregnant woman to take off work but enables someone who has another medical condition to take off could be illegal.
Another example of illegal policies occurs when a workplace forbids its employees from discussing their pay. The discovery that pay discrepancies exist between male and female workers or across racial lines may only occur if employees talk about what they make. Because of this, employers can’t forbid employees from discussing their pay.
Employees subjected to discrimination or harassment, even subtly, should ensure they understand their rights. Some might not realize that the policies contained in their company’s employee handbook might be part of the problem. Discussing your case with someone familiar with these cases can help you learn what actions you might take to rectify the situation.