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With the rise of the #MeToo movement and growing awareness around discrimination, employers who fail to enforce proper workplace conduct are at more risk than ever before. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there were 50 percent more sexual harassment lawsuits filed in 2018 than the previous year, and other types of discrimination suits related to unequal pay and treatment are also on the rise. To employers, these numbers may seem scary, but avoiding lawsuits is possible through the proper application of workplace policies.

For an employee to successfully claim discrimination or harassment, they must prove they were treated differently than their colleagues. This makes consistency critical in the workplace. This article covers a few ways to address inconsistency in your organization and prevent unwanted lawsuits.

How to Address Inconsistency in Your Organization

  1. Maintain a Clear and Updated Employee Handbook—An employee handbook should be the go-to policy reference guide at every company. Without a handbook, employees have no idea what to expect from their managers, and they may start to see discrimination in a manager’s innocent attempts to enforce company policy. Managers also need employee handbooks to ensure they are enforcing company policies properly. If your company doesn’t have an employee handbook or hasn’t updated it in a while, consider outsourcing your handbook to HR professionals.
  2. Manage the Company’s Managers—While employees in the HR department know the importance of consistently applying company policies, managers are the people who will actually be enforcing those policies on the ground. All company managers should be given training to understand workplace policies and to avoid the appearance of favoritism or discrimination. Because they sit in a position of power, managers also need to receive extra training on sexual harassment.
  3. Document All Policy Enforcement—Managers should document whenever an employee is disciplined or rewarded and cite the specific policies that prompted that action. Documentation will make it easier for managers to catch inconsistencies before they become a problem. These documents will also be critical in defending the company should a lawsuit arise.
  4. Monitor Electronic Communication—With the increasing use of email and internal chat applications, communication between employees and management has become more frequent and informal. This can be great for efficiency, but it also increases the likelihood of inconsistencies. Make sure managers know that their words online matter as much, if not more, than their communication with employees in-person.
  5. Understand the Laws Surrounding Pay and Leave—There’s a complicated web of laws surrounding employee pay and leave time, and every company needs to be sure they have HR experts on hand to keep them in compliance. Discrepancies in pay and benefits can hurt morale and also open companies up to lawsuits.

Having access to HR experts is the best way to ensure your company is enforcing its policies consistently. At LBMC Employment Partners, we can help with everything from developing your company’s handbook to securing training for managers. To learn more, contact us today.