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Is it time to update your employee handbook?

If you are a medium-sized Los Angeles area business owner who wants to update your employee handbook, specifically the policies around discrimination, you might be wondering what to include and how to communicate it effectively.

Discrimination is a significant issue that can harm your employees, your reputation and your bottom line.

Here are some tips on how to create a clear and comprehensive discrimination policy for your Southern California employee handbook.

Define discrimination

Define what discrimination is and what types of discrimination are prohibited by law. Discrimination is any negative treatment based on a protected class or characteristic. Federal law prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, age (40 or older), disability, genetic information, citizenship status and military service.

California law also prohibits discrimination based on marital status, medical condition, ancestry and political affiliation. You should list these protected classes in your policy and explain that any form of discrimination against them is unacceptable and illegal.

Prevent discrimination

Explain how you will prevent discrimination in the workplace. You should state that you are committed to creating a diverse and inclusive work environment where everyone is treated with respect and dignity.

You should also describe the steps you will take to ensure that your hiring, promotion, compensation, training and termination decisions are fair and based on merit and performance.

You should also provide training and education for your managers and employees on how to recognize and prevent discrimination and harassment. You should also encourage your employees to report discrimination incidents or concerns without fear of retaliation.

How to oversee reports

Outline how you will oversee complaints of discrimination. You should have a clear and consistent procedure for investigating and resolving complaints of discrimination. You should designate a person or a team who is responsible for receiving and handling complaints.

You should also inform your employees of their rights and options to file a complaint with external agencies, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

State that you will take appropriate disciplinary action against anyone who engages in or condones discrimination or retaliation.

Review the policy

Review your policy at least once a year and update it as needed to reflect any changes in the law or your business practices. Communicate any changes to your employees and provide them with a copy of the updated policy. You should also monitor the effectiveness of your policy and adjust if necessary.