In the months leading up to the presidential election, and since, there has been a rise in workplace incidents regarding discrimination.
In May 2016, a human resource trade group surveyed businesses and reported a one-fourth jump in incidents with a political volatility compared to prior presidential campaigns; by October, employers nationally reported a dramatic 52 percent increase of workplace tensions. Employers responding to the survey shared employees had become more vocal and argumentative in the workplace about political views.
Oneida Blagg, a specialist with the Society for Human Resource Management, which conducted the surveys, said “most employers are seeing these low-level comments that workers think they can throw around because they hear it in the public square, and they think it’s OK to use in the workplace.”
Following presidential candidate Donald Trump’s comment that he would pursue a “total and complete” ban on Muslims entering the US because of a “great hatred toward Americans by large segments of the Muslim population,” reports of anti-Muslim crimes spiked. Workplace complaints about race, religious discrimination, and national origin filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had been declining since 2011. In 2016, the EEOC indicated the number of complaints began to rise during the presidential race. Discrimination against religious groups, particularly Muslims recently, further heighten workplace anxiety. Never-the-less, Blagg said companies are becoming increasingly cognizant of religious accommodations. Companies “are really focusing on this because this is where the issues have been rising, the religious-based, culturally based issues,” Blagg said.
Elizabeth Milito, senior executive counsel for The National Federation of Independent Businesses, reflects small businesses must carefully navigate politically charged situations. Her advice discourages supervisors entering political conversations with subordinates while reminding employees of a company’s no discrimination and harassment policies.
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