Every person in Minnesota is protected by the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which provides more protection than its federal counterpart. Did you know that the following classes are all protected here? Race, Color, Creed, Religion, National Origin, Sex, Marital Status, Familial Status, Disability, Public Assistance Status, Age, Sexual Orientation, and your status with the local human rights commission (e.g., making a complaint or requesting an investigation). Read on for some simple, effective steps to making sure that your workplace remains harassment-free.
- Have a clear, written policy that harassment in any form will not be tolerated and may lead to discipline, up to and including dismissal.
- Require acknowledgment of your policy as part of onboarding of all new employees, contractors and volunteers.
- Be sure that your complaint procedure is accessible—don’t have only one person/method for reporting. If your company or organization is very small, look into whether your insurance company, advisors or board members (if applicable) can serve as someone to report complaints and allegations to as well as the sole manager/owner.
- If your staff interacts with customers directly, consider notifying customers that the company has zero tolerance for harassment and that this includes customers—empower your staff to refuse any customer who engages in harassing behavior (and train supervisors to handle this on behalf of staff when at all possible).
- Respond promptly and appropriately to all disclosures and complaints. Do not ask the person making the disclosure or complaint what they want as a result—it is your job to establish action plans BEFORE complaints happen and to enforce them.
If you’re a small business in Minnesota without an employee conduct policy or are unsure whether or not members of your workforce have adequate protections in place, Davis Law Office is available to assist you. We’re particularly skilled at working with small companies operating in new lines of business and start-ups, and our range of identities and experience mean that we can right-size our advice to what makes your company unique.