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Convenience stores – perhaps more than other retail environments – are bound by many different laws and regulations. To stay in business, you have to comply with safety regulations, age-restricted sales laws, guidelines for lotto sales, anti-money laundering rules, and the list goes on and on. Just as important as the laws that are specific to convenience stores are ones that apply to all types of businesses. Discrimination and harassment laws should be your highest priority.

Which Harassment Laws Apply to My Store?

Federal laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) apply to all employers in the United States. There may be additional state and local laws that also apply to you. The EEOC defines harassment as “…unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.” It’s important to remember that conduct that may not be specifically forbidden by law can still be considered harassment.

What Can Happen if You Don’t Follow Harassment Laws?

Legally, your business could be charged by the EEOC or sued by a victim of harassment if you don’t follow harassment and discrimination laws. According to the EEOC, nearly 150,000 lawsuits alleging workplace discrimination or harassment were brought against companies in a single year. From those cases, victims received a total of over $450 million in settlements. Managers, supervisors, and HR staff members can be held personally liable for harassment that occurs under their supervision. Harassment can ruin your business, and it can have dire consequences even when it doesn’t reach the level of charges and lawsuits. When harassment occurs, staff morale decreases, turnover increases, and customer service suffers.

How Can You Protect Your Business from Harassment?

Protecting your business starts with awareness, and awareness leads to prevention. The more your employees know about harassment, the better prepared they’ll be to recognize inappropriate conduct, and report it when necessary. Comprehensive harassment training must be mandatory for all staff members and managers.

Online Training on Harassment Laws

Explaining harassment laws is the cornerstone of harassment training. The online training course Harassment in the Workplace helps employees and managers understand harassment laws and how they apply to your business. Click here for more information.