Lawrence N. Lavigne, Esq., L.L.C.
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Why it's important for leaders to handle racism in the workplace

Discrimination and racism have unfortunately always been present in workplaces in New Jersey and throughout the U.S. As such, it is important for leaders to handle expressions and acts of discrimination or racism in the workplace in a professional manner. Not only does this establish a safe work culture, but it also allows the workplace to be more inclusive and diverse.

Ignoring comments, jokes and physical symbols of racism in the workplace is not acceptable. It is important to note that, while public-sector workers and union workers cannot be fired simply for their views, federal law itself does not necessarily protect workers who express certain political views or are involved in political activities. If the activities the workers are involved in outside of work reflect poorly on the employer, the employer may have the right to terminate them.

Some leaders in the tech industry, including Reddit, PayPal and Facebook have taken further steps to prevent users who are part of major hate groups from being able to use their services. This is a big deal as these social media platforms will have to confront the fact at some point that their services play major roles in magnifying hate speech and discrimination.

When it comes to discrimination in the workplace, only certain classes of workers are protected. For example, a worker cannot be discriminated against based on his or race, gender and family status. If a worker reports an incident of racism or discrimination but is punished or ignored, the worker may have certain employee rights. For example, an attorney could determine if the worker has a valid lawsuit. If there is sufficient evidence demonstrating that the worker did experience racism or discrimination and was either terminated or otherwise punished for making a report, the attorney could litigate. Through litigation, the worker could seek compensation for lost wages and potentially even get his or her job back.

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