Racial discrimination, which is outlawed in the United States, continues to lead to costly enforcement decisions and lawsuits against businesses across the country.  It is always a good time to brush up on the laws forbidding discrimination based on race/color and imperative that you keep race/color discrimination out of your jewelry business.

Federal law and many state laws law “forbid discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment”[1]. Unfavorable treatment of a job applicant or employee because of that person’s race (including traits associated with race like hair color, skin texture, and other features) or skin complexion constitutes discrimination. Unfavorable treatment of someone who is married to or associated with a person of a certain race or color can also constitute discrimination. [2]

In 2016 alone, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – the agency responsible for enforcing federal discrimination laws – received 32,309 charges alleging race-based discrimination[3]. Charges and lawsuits based on allegations of discrimination, even if settled or won by your business, can accumulate hefty legal fees, harm your public image and reduce your customer base and profits significantly. Thus, in addition to generally treating your employees and colleagues with respect and fairness, we recommend that you implement non-discrimination policies and educate your employees on these policies and the potential repercussions for failing to follow these policies.

For more information on the law regarding race discrimination in the workplace and other types of discrimination and harassment prohibited by law, take advantage of JVC’s Jewelers Employment Manual (JEM). JEM can help you limit your legal risk by providing a more expansive discussion of the law, sample forms your business can use for employees, and guidance on how to foster a respectful work environment. As a member, you can purchase this comprehensive publication and toolkit for just $100 – a bargain compared with defending a costly harassment lawsuit.  Taking the time to create policies for your employees will benefit you as an employer and help you avoid risk!

 

[1] See U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Race/Color Discrimination, <https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/race_color.cfm> (last visited August 18, 2017).

[2] See id.

[3] Race-Based Charges (Charges filed with EEOC), <https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/race.cfm> (last visited August 21, 2017).