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EEOC: Explain policies in workers’ native language

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

To ensure your workers understand your anti-discrimination policy, translate it and then sit down and explain it to them.

Insiders say the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is targeting discrimination against foreign-born workers, and it has been focusing on areas with high immigrant populations. While the EEOC has no official rule that company anti-bias policies must be translated into a worker's native language, the agency has been making that argument in recent lawsuits.

Example: One Maryland food plant had written anti-harassment policies and Spanish translations, which workers signed to acknowledge receipt. The EEOC said that was a good step, but many workers never read the policy, or couldn't read at all. Result: a $1 million settlement on behalf of 22 female Hispanic workers who said they were sexually harassed. (EEOC v. Grace Culinary Systems Inc., No. AW-98-284, D. Md., 2000)

Advice: Make sure all employees understand your policies against harassment and discrimination. To be on the safe side, print and verbally describe those policies in workers' native languages, and document your efforts.

Call us at (800) 543-2055 and we'll fax you a free three-page report, Preventing Sexual Harassment: A Small Business Guide, which includes a sample sexual harassment policy in both English and Spanish.

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