HR Management & Compliance

Quick Diversity Training Exercise: Which Comment Leads to Legal Trouble?

The U.S. workforce grows more and more diverse each day, and your managers and employees need to be trained on discrimination laws. Today we’re providing a quick and simple diversity training exercise that can be used to show supervisors how to avoid making comments that could lead to legal trouble.

Begin diversity training by asking participants why they should be concerned about workplace diversity. After some discussion, give them these stats:

  • Figures from the most recent census show that minorities account for almost one-third of the U.S. workforce, 10% of workers are aged 55 or over, and almost one-half the workforce are women.
  • In the future, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that minorities will approach 50% of the American workforce, and the number of workers age 55 and older will jump to almost 20%.
  • Growing diversity among your employees has a big impact on how your organization functions. Increasingly, supervisors will be required to work effectively with men and women of different races, religions, ages, lifestyle preferences, and social, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.

Training Exercise: Can These Comments Cause Legal Trouble?

Divide your trainees into groups to answer, or, if your group is already small, have trainees answer individually. Then, compare answers with those given in the next section.

  1. “Alice is pregnant. She shouldn’t be flying, so I’m taking her off all the out-of-town cases.”
  2. “Let’s all play golf Saturday, well, except for Al. He tends to put a damper on things.” (Al is of a different ethnic background than the other members of the team.)
  3. “Jillie has young kids at home. She won’t be interested in that promotional opportunity—too much traveling.”
  4. “So they’re getting on me for EEO? I’ve got the solution—I’m selecting minorities from now on. I just won’t hire any nonminorities, even if they’re the most qualified.”
  5. “Women aren’t rough enough for this job. It takes a real lumberjack type to last 8 hours at this job.”
  6. “I’m not hiring her—she’s pregnant. She’ll be gone on leave the day after she starts.”
  7. “I didn’t hire him—he does have qualifications, but with that limp, I don’t think he can do the job.”
  8. “Personally, I’d like to hire a lot of minorities, but my customers just wouldn’t be comfortable with that. It’s just a business decision, not discrimination.”


Answers for Training Exercise: Comments that can Cause Legal Trouble

You’ve probably figured it out already—these 8 comments could ALL cause legal trouble. Here are the reasons why for each:

  1. You must treat pregnant employees the same as all other employees.
  2. Exclusion from quasi-corporate activities is discrimination.
  3. A patronizing approach such as this is illegal.
  4. It is called reverse discrimination.
  5. Such attitudes are illegal stereotyping.
  6. You cannot refuse to hire on the basis of pregnancy.
  7. Such an approach is clearly illegal discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  8. Customer preference is not an acceptable excuse for discrimination.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll go through another quick diversity exercise—this time, it’s a true-false quiz.