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August 4, 2010

Immigration Debate May Spur Workplace Concerns Around the Country

Filed under: General HR Buzz1:59 pm

The recently enacted Arizona immigration law makes it a state crime for someone to be in Arizona illegally and requires the police to arrest those who can’t provide evidence of citizenship or the right to be in the U.S.

But the impact of the law reaches far beyond Arizona, as massive media coverage, and strong feelings on the issue are likely to affect many workplaces.

Employers should be on alert for racial harassment jokes and slurs targeted against Hispanics as well as other forms of discrimination based on race or national origin. Some employers or their managers may seek to create more “English only” workplaces, which is appropriate only in limited circumstances.  Organizations should also ensure that Hispanics are not required to meet higher standards than others, whether that’s requiring more documentation for I-9s, stronger skills, or different criteria for promotions or raises.   Immigration is a controversial and sensitive issue which isn’t going away any time soon.   In fact, other states are discussing similar actions to those taken in Arizona.  With this in mind it’s a good time to roll out those good HR practices of EEO and harassment training for managers and staff, diversity initiatives, regular dissemination of policies, and an ongoing review of practices and procedures.  Finally, it’s important to ensure that non native English speakers understand nondiscrimination policies, complaint procedures, and safety information.

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