Apart from what federal, state and local laws require of businesses when it comes to hiring practices, the fact remains that a diverse workforce is beneficial for companies. Any human resource consulting firm will point out how you’re able to mine the best talent from all corners of your local populace, which in turn strengthens the bonds of trust between you and the community in which you’re established.
Additionally, Jon Hyman, a partner in the Labor & Employment practice of Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis, wrote a column in Workforce that observed one other important advantage of hiring a diverse team of employees: if ever a current or former worker alleges discrimination of a protected class and takes legal action, hiring other members of that protected class reduce the credibility of the claim.
Court case provides precedent
To illustrate his point, Hyman discussed the case of an African American woman who worked in a Chipotle restaurant in Cincinnati. She requested a 10-day leave of absence period for travel, but was denied. She traveled anyway, and the employer concluded from her absence that she had quit. When she was not allowed to return for work, she filed a lawsuit claiming that she was a victim of race- and sex-based discrimination.
While the plaintiff had an easy time proving she never intended to quit, her discrimination allegation did not stand in court.
“Wilson offered no evidence that Chipotle replaced her with white or male employees,” Hyman wrote in Workforce, quoting the court case. “To the contrary, Wilson’s part-time slot was picked up by three African-American females and one African-American male. The Clifton branch work force was 75 percent African American during the relevant period, and Wilson offers no evidence that this changed at the time.”
Ultimately, the case demonstrated a potentially overlooked benefit to hiring and maintaining a diverse workforce.
As the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission points out, settling discrimination cases can be very expensive in cases that find for the plaintiff. Court-appointed remedies for these suits may include back pay, hiring, promotion, reinstatement, front pay, attorney’s fees, expert witness fees and court costs. Compensatory and punitive damages may also be rewarded by the judge. The court may also require that companies remedy any of the business practices that could have led to the discrimination complaints in the first place.