In workplace training courses, it’s easier to find a solution that’s acceptable, to fire an imaginary employee, to ignore a hypothetical customer’s complaints. In the real world, it’s much harder. There are gray areas, people that you don’t want to offend, toes you don’t want to step on, trouble that you’d rather not stir up.
But you have an obligation to speak up. It’s your legal and ethical duty to uphold federal and state law, provide a comfortable working environment for everyone, and ensure that you and you company don’t engage in or enable harassing or discriminating behavior.
So, what can you do?
Help develop policies for your facility and follow them. Having a written policy that is always followed helps to demonstrate that you are acting consistently in all situations, regardless of the employee.
If in doubt, ask. Your supervisors, your HR department, your legal department, and even your state’s department of labor or employment can provide guidance on your policies and procedure and help amend them if they prove to be inadequate. Involving more people in the decision process, within the limits of confidentiality, helps make sure that you are acting in accordance with the law and within the bounds of professional ethics.