Dealing with discrimination in your franchise

Discrimination may be occurring in your Franchise between one or more staff members without you even knowing about it.  Discrimination in the workplace is considered by the Australian Government as being an unacceptable form of conduct to the point where both the Federal and state governments have created specific legislation to prevent discrimination based on race, class, religion, sex and physical impairment amongst other forms of prejudices.

As the Franchisor and owner of your CENTURY 21 agency, it is your role and responsibility to be aware and to act on any issues relating to discrimination within your workplace.  A safe way to prevent any nasty words or actions within the office is to simply educate the staff on the strict consequences they will face if they are to act disrespectfully to another member of staff.  It is usually a good idea to establish a policy which is visible and known to all staff discouraging discrimination on all fronts.

When or if you are required to act on an alleged act of discrimination, try to remain professional and appoint a contact person or panel to liaise with individuals about the complaint or concern.  Irrespective of which type of discrimination the matter involves, it is important to remain professional and supportive of your staff. 

It may be worthwhile to include a section in your Franchise’s Constitution or in employment contracts which announces the something along the lines of the following:
“The [insert your Franchise name] fully supports the rights and opportunities of all people to seek, obtain and pursue their work in a safe environment.
Discrimination is unlawful behaviour and will therefore not be tolerated at this CENTURY 21 Franchise. With support of the following Acts, it is this Franchise’s policy to make every effort to provide a non-discriminatory, harassment and intimidation free working environment.  The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Commonwealth) and the WA Equal Opportunities Act, the Commonwealth Disability Act 1992, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984”.

It is standard protocol when a staff member approaches you with a concern that you ask for the complaint to be documented in writing, encouraging full and specific details of the situation.  The complaint is to include;

-    The names of the parties involved
-    The alleged conduct
-    Relevant dates and times
-    Details of the event
-    The place the event occurred
-    The witness to the behaviour, if any

The complaint should then be privately discussed with the person questioning how they would like the issue to be resolved.  Conciliation is often the best method to move forward with.  If the victim does not think you have dealt with the matter in a professional manner, they may consider contacting the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which has a responsibility of overseeing compliance of anti-discrimination laws.

To protect your staff and prevent any negative media attention it is important that as the owner of the franchise you are informed of any problems which arise between your staff and act on serious matters with strength and professionalism.  You need to showcase to all staff that your Franchise is not tolerant of such behaviour.

 

Posted by George Tarbey on 26/10/2010 at 10:57 AM | Categories:

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