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EEOC's Discrimination Guide for Startups

Some states are insuring discrimination protections for LGBT employees and customers. Others, not so much. So it's fair for the average small business owner or entrepreneur to wonder what they're responsibilities are when it comes to preventing discrimination.

Lucky for you, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released a handy, 1-page guide to help startups comply with federal anti-discrimination laws. Here are some of the highlights:

An Ounce of Prevention

The federal government sets the floor when it comes to civil rights and employment protections; states and municipalities can go farther to ensure minorities are treated equally, but they cannot restrict rights or access more than the feds. And the EEOC is the federal agency tasked with making sure businesses don't discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or genetic information.

To that end, the EEOC guide lists employer responsibilities when it comes to preventing discrimination:

  • Ensure that employment decisions are not based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or genetic information.
  • Ensure that work policies and practices are related to the job and do not disproportionately exclude people of a particular race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age.
  • Ensure that employees are not harassed because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, or genetic information.
  • Provide equal pay to male and female employees who perform the same work, unless you can justify a pay difference under the law.

A Pound of Cure

The EEOC also has guidance on how to respond to discrimination complaints, and a list of resources on answering questions, providing suggestions, and training employees regarding their workplace rights and responsibilities. You may be required to provide reasonable accommodations to employees who need time for medical appointments or religious observances.

If you have more questions about preventing discrimination in your startup, or if you've received a complaint of discrimination from an employee, you should contact an experienced employment attorney near you.

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