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Employers charged with workplace discrimination, Part 1

Usually the term workplace discrimination refers to discriminatory actions by an employer against an employee. Most discussions about this topic focus on the toll the discrimination takes on the employee and whether the employee was able to prevail in a related lawsuit. Since these topics are very pertinent to Missouri employment matters, the topic of the employer's cost for workplace discrimination is often overshadowed.

Workplace discrimination is illegal in Missouri and can become very costly for the employer -- a fact that makes many wonder why it still occurs with such high frequency. In general, workplace discrimination occurs when an employee, who is part of a protected class, is treated unfairly.

The protected classes of employees include, but are not limited to, race, sexual orientation, religion, gender and age of the employee. Reports from the Center for American Progress claims workplace discrimination cost businesses, as a whole, $64 billion per year. One of the largest workplace discrimination cost to an employer is due to employee turnover. The employee turnover is due to the presence of workplace discrimination and results in approximately 2 million employees who leave their jobs.

Another related employer cost for workplace discrimination is the associated litigation cost. For example, recently a large shipping company was required to pay $3 million to settle a workplace discrimination lawsuit. The lawsuit claimed the employer violated workplace discrimination laws by discriminating against employment applicants. The discrimination consisted of race and gender discrimination and occurred in 15 states.

Workplace discrimination is illegal, but unfortunately happens in many workplace environments. The cost to employers for employment discrimination is staggering when viewed in a national average, but does not even begin to address the emotional impact to the employees who endure workplace discrimination let alone their financial damages.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Workplace Discrimination Costs Businesses $64 Billion Every Year," Harry Bradford, March 23, 2012

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