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Watch what you say to avoid discrimination in the workplace!

by , 25 February 2013
Twitter was abuzz during Oscar Pistorius' bail hearing on Friday. Not only because Judge Nair took so long to reach his verdict on whether grant Pistorius bail or not, but also because of his word choice: At one point, Nair said he'd become handicapped by the case. Nair was deeply criticised for this discriminatory word choice against Pistorius in the social media space. Here's why you need to watch what you say in the workplace to avoid similar judgment...

A Twitter user commented 'Nair actually just said 'as I sit here, I am indeed handicapped...' Errr.... Strange choice of words there, Mr Magistrate.'
Proof that a single wrong word can get you into trouble for discrimination in the workplace.
And a single wrong word when putting together a job vacancy advert could cost you a fortune, says the Labour Law for Managers Practical Handbook.
Do your employees take offense at what you've said? You could face a charge of discrimination!
You need to be extremely careful about your language and word choice in the office, as this counts as a form of discrimination.
That's why some companies instil a policy against swearing to show they're aligned to good corporate governance.
In doing so, they meet the ethical principle of non-discrimination.
But it's not just swearing that sets people off.
The Labour Bulletin explains that you could be offending and discriminating against your employees by using emotionally loaded words.
A simple way around this is to resolve any allegations of discrimination quickly. 
Here's how to involve your employees to ensure there's no discrimination in your workplace!
Once any allegation of discrimination is investigated, make sure the findings are discussed with all staff and even incorporated into your employee manual's anti-discrimination policies. 
You can also involve employees by holding roleplay sessions where they create clear examples of workplace discrimination to clarify any questions and bring to light any examples of workplace discrimination you've missed.
It could be as simple as an employee being asked sensitive questions regarding his culture, religion or political interests by a colleague, adds the Labour Bulletin.
That's because there are 20 areas of discrimination you need to prevent in the workplace.
These include race, gender, sex, sexual orientation, religious belief, age, disability, pregnancy, marital status, family responsibility, ethnic or social origin, colour, HIV status, conscience, belief, political opinion, culture, language, criminal record or birth, explains the Department of Labour.
This gives employees a great deal of room to claim for discrimination, says FSP Business
So make sure your employees are well aware of any topics that might be sensitive for their colleagues, in order to prevent any claims of discrimination in the workplace.

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