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Preventing Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace - What Companies Need to Know

Published on April 21, 2016

Preventing discrimination and harassment is key to avoiding employee claims.  Prevention includes adopting policies and procedures against discrimination and harassment and training employees.

Policies and Procedures

Every company should have written policies and procedures regarding anti-harassment, anti-discrimination, anti-retaliation, how to make a complaint or report harassment/discrimination, and stating that the company is an equal opportunity employer.  These policies should be in the employee handbook, on the internal company website, and accessible to all employees.  All employees should sign an acknowledgment saying they received and understand the company policies.  The policies should be as comprehensive as possible, covering compliance with all applicable laws, as well as practical information such as examples of harassment/discrimination, what to do in instances of harassment/discrimination, etc.  Policies should be reviewed regularly, at least annually, to determine whether they need to be updated.


Employee training is one of the best tools to prevent discrimination and harassment.  All employees should be trained on diversity, respect, anti-discrimination laws, harassment, sexual harassment, retaliation, reporting discrimination and harassment, and the company’s policies against discrimination and harassment.  Managers should receive extra training about supervisory responsibilities, investigation of complaints, retaliation, compliance with state and federal laws, etc.  All employees should sign a form stating that they took part in the training and understand it.  The goal of all training is to avoid or minimize workplace discrimination and harassment.  Providing employee training is also a useful defense in responding to complaints, charges, and lawsuits.

If you find yourself in a questionable situation or needing more information about adopting such policies, feel free to contact an attorney in the Employment Rights, Benefits and Labor Group at Ryan Swanson.

Britenae Pierce is a member in Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC’s Employment Rights, Benefits and Labor Group and can be reached at 206.654.2289 or [email protected]

This message has been created by the Employment Rights, Benefits & Labor Group at Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC to advise of recent developments in the law. Because each situation is different, this information is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any specific facts and circumstances. Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC is a full-service law firm located in Seattle, Washington.


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