Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Employers need to be more vigilant than ever with anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim bias

Not all Jews are Zionists colonizers, and not all Muslims are Hamas terrorists. In fact, most aren't. Moreover, you can oppose the policies or actions of the Israeli government without being antisemitic and oppose Hamas without being anti-Muslim.

Yet, the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has brought the Israeli-Palestinian conflict front and center into our lives, and as a result also into our workplaces. You can't stop employees from talking about current events, especially when those events are so horrific and so impactful on so many of us. Your employees will be talking about what's happening in Israel and Gaza. The key for employers is to make sure those discussions remain calm and respectful.

According to the EEOC, "In the aftermath of major attacks, workplace conversations and interactions related to these events may occur. In an atmosphere of heightened concern and apprehension, some employees may be more likely to make unguarded remarks, and others may be more afraid of harassment."

As a result, the EEOC "encourages employers to be proactive in such situations and to publicize (or re-publicize) their anti-harassment and anti-retaliation policies and procedures."

To that end, the EEOC has published, What To Do If You Face Antisemitism At Work. It discusses issues specific to religious discrimination against Jews, although the same principles hold for discrimination against Muslims. 

I encourage all employers to take the time to talk to your employees about anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim discrimination and harassment, remind all that your workplace is a respectful one, and that an employee's failure to recognize and abide by that respect will be dealt with accordingly.