Discrimination in the workplace, no matter the type of workplace, has unfortunately always been present in some form or another. Whether it’s discrimination around sexual orientation, race, age, religion, or gender, many people over the years have been put in situations that they wish they wouldn’t have been and companies into positions they wished to avoid.
With a heightened sense of attention put on sexual harassment in the last few years due to the #MeToo movement, people are looking to reform the way they are treated in the workplace. However, achieving this based on where you happen to live in the country can be disheartening. In fact, for public sector employment, only 43 percent of state employees work in a state with a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. Only 31 percent work in a state with a law also prohibiting discrimination based on the identity of one’s gender.
According to data from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, harassment in the workplace is the most commonly alleged form of discrimination brought up by employees every year, coming in at 30 percent of all appeals resolved.
Leaders in the public sector should review their agency’s policies and work with employees and supervisors to see how these can be updated or just followed so all involved are protected. Each agency develops its own policies in accordance with local, state, and federal law, which means that all managers and employees should be well-aware of the interpretations and meanings.
However, it’s one thing to have a policy printed out, and it’s another to actually follow it. Using policies as guidelines when it comes to discrimination is a good start, but it’s up to employees and supervisors to actually practice what’s been penned. Anyone who has been harassed in any way, or made to feel uncomfortable, should be encouraged to get in touch with their direct supervisor and feel supported knowing their complaint is well-received and understood.
During orientation, new employees should receive sufficient education and resources around what constitutes harassment and discrimination. It’s important for managers in the public sector to be aware of what’s happening in the workplace and not wait until something occurs and grows to a major issue. From talking to employees and holding open door sessions, having a sense of a welcome and honest environment can go a long way.
If someone in a public sector role, or any role for that matter, feels they have a reasonable complaint and they bring it to the attention of their superiors, it could possibly spell trouble for the agency where they work. Having public officials insurance is one way to ensure that an agency is financially supplied for during a claim.
While the ultimate goal is to get to the bottom of the situation and to hold accountable those who need to be, it’s also important to be covered during what could be a long and arduous situation that calls for major resources to be used. Having this kind of coverage will help to protect an agency’s financials while they work with all involved to come to the best solution.
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