You just started a Zoom meeting with your crew and you’ve noticed that one of your attendees has a Confederate flag hanging on the wall in clear view of everyone logging in to the virtual session.
Do you need to take action by, for instance, telling the person to move the camera so that the flag is no longer visible?
The short answer is yes.
Here’s the deal: Your employer isn’t immune from discrimination lawsuits just because work-related activities are taking place remotely via Zoom. An offended staffer can still sue for illegal bias if something clearly discriminatory happens during a virtual meeting.
In this case, a Black worker would probably be unhappy
– and tempted to sue – should he or she notice the flag.
In other situations, people might make comments that could be discriminatory.
One of the biggest areas of concern is older workers and their use of technology. A person unfamiliar with Zoom or other remote meeting software could struggle to get connected, or lose his or her remote feed during the conversation.
In that case, a younger staffer might refer to the older person as a dinosaur or something similar. You can’t just let the discriminatory statement slide. You’ve got to reprimand workers who make offensive comments during virtual meetings, just like you would if the inappropriate behavior happened in the workplace.
Another area of concern is gender discrimination. Virtual meeting attendees might assume that a female crew member is working less or shouldn’t be included in certain sessions because her children can be heard or seen playing in the background.
Make sure any comments or behaviors that reinforce gender stereotypes are quickly quashed. Everyone needs to clearly recognize that you have zero tolerance for unfounded assumptions.
(From the Jan. 22, 2021, issue of HR Manager’s Legal Alert for Supervisors. To sign up for a no-obligation trial subscription to the publication right now, please click here.)