Employers: Meet members of the next generation of your workforce

Employers: Meet members of the next generation of your workforce

The Detroit News ran a story that sounds like the plot from the movie Carrie.  A high school sophomore was elected as the female member of the Homecoming Court for her class.  In the parlance of high school students, she was "different," and her selection was intended to be a cruel prank. Other students made fun of her, and the male representative from her class initially quit the Court but has now returned. Thanks to the community which has rallied around the student, this story will have a positive ending.  Hopefully, a lesson will be learned by the student body.

So, for employers, what do they take from a story like this?  The American workplace is becoming more and more diverse.  There are and will be more employees who are "different."  There are also people entering the workforce who have been bullies; will they change or is this a trait that is not outgrown?

Bullying in the workplace is an issue that cannot be ignored.  In an era of social media and "smart" technology, it is much easier to bully someone.  Employers can face a range of issues from discrimination and mental distress claims to workplace violence.  Policies identifying the problem and clearly stating the employer's position need to be put in place.  Conduct which is not allowed must be identified specifically to avoid running afoul of the NLRA.  Bulling is another form of harassment, although not necessarily based on a protected class, which should be included in the harassment complaint procedure.

No one said being an employer was easy.  This story highlights the fact that it will not get any easier in the future.

For additional Labor and Employment law insights from John Holmquist, visit the Michigan Employment Law Connection.

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