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Employers, conscious or unconscious bias can invade your company

Idaho’s anti-discrimination laws shield employees from intentional and unconscious bias, a subtler form of discrimination that can creep into the workplace.

In other words, your actions and policies could unknowingly disadvantage certain groups, even with no malicious intent. Here is what you need to know to facilitate an inclusive employment culture and avoid workplace discrimination claims.

Hidden landmines to circumnavigate

Most accidental discrimination stems from seemingly neutral policies or practices that disproportionately impact individuals or protected groups. In a simple example, a dress code prohibiting head coverings disadvantages Sikh employees who must wear turbans for religious reasons.

Here are some everyday examples of unintentional bias:

  • Ageism: Job postings emphasizing “recent graduates” or “young and energetic” could unintentionally discourage older applicants from seeking employment.
  • Gender bias. Requiring traditional feminine or masculine attire and limiting hairstyles can create barriers for non-binary employees or those who express their gender differently.
  • Family bias. Asking invasive questions about marital status, pregnancy or future family plans can be taken as discriminatory against those planning families.
  • Disability bias. Requiring specific physical abilities (heavy lifting, specific travel) without exploring reasonable accommodations could inadvertently exclude individuals with disabilities.

Disparate impact, a legal concept, extends beyond individual cases. It applies when seemingly neutral policies disproportionately affect protected groups. For instance, an aptitude test for promotions might indirectly disadvantage certain minority groups if the test itself is culturally biased.

Preparing for possible adversity

Occupational discrimination claims are intricate, involving many legal and situational facets. Consulting with counsel can help you manage these complexities. Your representative can guide you in fostering an inclusive workplace environment and provide crucial legal support if you face a discrimination claim.