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Warning: That 'harmless office poll' could land you in hot water for discrimination!

by , 05 April 2013
HR departments often poll their employees on opinions to create interesting internal newsletter articles. But you should be careful of following suit in your company. Because opinion is strongly linked to prejudice, which means that publishing your employees' opinions in any form could result in claims of discrimination - as is happening to the University of Cape Town's student newspaper. Here's the only time to comment on race in your company...

The University of Cape Town's (UCT) student newspaper recently polled students on their views of interracial dating.
This may seem harmless, but a  pie-chart accompanying the article, titled "UCT votes on the most attractive race", is drawing criticism for stating that 'blacks are the least attractive race', Says iAfrica
For example, the Young Community League of SA's UCT branch said it was "shocked and disgusted" by the survey.
Now, the UCT Student Representative Council says greater sensitivity should have been shown to an issue that has painful historical significance. 
Cover all aspects of discrimination when training your employees 
To prevent your employees from landing in hot water for similar discriminatory reasons, you should make sure your employees are aware of 'sensitive topics' that could land them in trouble, whether they comment innocently or with malice.
Because turning a blind eye to any form of racism in your company could mean you're just as guilty, says FSP Business
And the Labour Court takes these matters seriously – it's ruled that workplace racism is a dismissible offence.
So make sure you've trained your employees properly on the 20 areas of discrimination the Department of Labour says you need to prevent in the workplace.
The only time to comment on race in your company…
One of the recent employment equity changes is that you need to separate numerical targets reporting from numerical goals reporting when you submit your employment equity report to the Department of Labour, says FSP Business.
And this should be the only time you consider or comment on race in your company, to prevent claims of discrimination.

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Warning: That 'harmless office poll' could land you in hot water for discrimination!
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