Amid the devastation and loss of life caused by the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, employers around the world have closed their offices and businesses in Israelwhile some have asked employees to work from home as fighting continues.
In the United States and elsewhere, human resources professionals are also responding to fears of workplace harassment and discrimination against Jews, Muslims, Palestinians and other workers.
Jonathan Segal, a partner at Duane Morris, fielded several calls from employers last week on war-related topics, he said in an interview.
Leaders ‘can expect harassment or denigration’ of Israelis and Jews as well as Muslims, Palestinians and people of other ethnicities and nationalities in the coming weeks , Segal said. “They need to respond to it by reacting and contacting people in the organization to take corrective action.”
How HR departments choose to respond may depend on the nature of the infraction. But importantly, front-line managers shouldn’t make disciplinary decisions alone, Segal said, adding, “I like the idea of going to HR.” Employers can also take this opportunity to review their workplace anti-harassment policies to ensure that the subject is properly addressed and that the employer has clearly distinguished which types of activities are protected and which are not. are not.
Since this war broke out, employers have already taken disciplinary measures. Law office Winston & Straw announced on October 10 that it had canceled a job offer to a law student and former summer associate at the firm who posted “certain inflammatory comments” about Hamas attacks. Another law firm, Davis Polk & Wardwell, job offers also canceled Tuesday, Reuters reported.
Federal regulators are also paying attention. In a LinkedIn post, Commissioner Andrea Lucas of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said the agency “is ready to defend the rights of Jewish employees» who experience anti-Semitism at work in the midst of war. The agency also offers resources to help employers identify and fight against harassment of Muslim workers.
An October 11 SHRM statement » asked human resources professionals “lead with courtesy, compassion and empathy”, and the organization offered resources to employers on international crisis management.
Beyond complying with federal nondiscrimination laws, Segal suggested employers extend resources such as employee assistance programs and mental health services to affected workers, and consider offering such resources if they do not currently offer them.
Despite the circumstances, Segal said the kindness of colleagues and employers in recent days “is truly remarkable.” Focusing on positive actions and alliances can help employers’ education efforts, he added. Employers may also consider supporting humanitarian organizations providing aid to victims.
“In times like this, people sometimes focus on the pure evil that can be seen on social media, but I have also seen an incredible amount of kindness,” Segal said. “For me, there is nothing that helps more in a difficult time than kindness, and I think it is everywhere.”