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Oprah's 'racist' incident highlights the importance of dealing with racism in your workplace

by , 12 August 2013
A Swiss luxury-goods store has denied any wrongdoing after Oprah Winfrey said she'd encountered racism when one of its shop assistants allegedly refused to show her an expensive handbag. The store's owner claimed the entire incident was based on a 'misunderstanding due to language difficulties. He also said the saleswoman had never sought to stop Winfrey, whom she failed to recognise, from buying the $36000 crocodile bag, TheAge reports. This incident has certainly cast the spotlight on racism in the workplace. Here are five steps you can use to deal with racism at an individual level.

Our Courts have zero tolerance for racism in the workplace and you'll suffer the consequences if you ignore this issue, warns the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service. That means it's imperative you eradicate racism and promote diversity in your workplace immediately.

Here's how you can deal with racism between your employees.

Use these five steps to deal with racism on an individual level

Step#1: When you become aware of an incident of racism in your workplace, investigate the matter immediately.

Step#2: Discipline the employee who committed the racist act in terms of your disciplinary code.

Step#3: Always follow the correct procedures when applying the appropriate forms of discipline and consult your disciplinary code and procedure. Remember, your disciplinary procedure must be procedurally fair.

Step#4: Reassure the innocent employee that you don't tolerate racism in your workplace and won't tolerate the actions of the other employee.

Step#5: Offer assistance to the employee affected by the racist incident. For example, provide support, time-off and counselling.

Remember, an employee who's subjected to racist slurs or racial harassment could have a claim under the Employment Equity Act (EEA) or under the Constitution. They could even sue you in the Equality Court, warns FSPBusiness. So make sure you take these steps to eliminate racism immediately.

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