When dealing with accusations of discrimination, documentation at your property is key. The Grace Hill training tip of the week focuses on documentation and what you need to know.
Documentation is extremely important when dealing with accusations of discrimination. Should you or your community ever be accused of discrimination, you must be able to defend your decisions, policies, and practices, as well as demonstrate that all persons were treated equally regardless of membership in one of the protected classes. Accordingly, your documentation should offer a full accounting of facts, including events and actions that were taken, all people involved, and specific dates and times.
As you document, it is important to be mindful of what you write. Even a well-intentioned note you jotted down to jog your memory or that you thought might help you provide more personalized customer service could be problematic. Remember, discrimination doesn’t have to be intentional for it to be illegal.
When filling out any type of documentation used at your property:
- Do not include physical descriptions of customers, such as straight hair, or dark skin.
- Do not include references to things that may be related to national origins, such as strong accent.
- Do not include references to things that may be related to a resident’s disability, such as uses a wheelchair or doesn’t hear very well.
- Do not include descriptions of family, such as small children, or twin daughters, or new baby.
If you find yourself writing something that would identify your customer as a member of a protected class, think again. The seven classes currently protected by the federal Fair Housing Act are race, color, national origin, race, religion, sex, disability status, and familial status.
Some states, cities, and municipalities have expanded fair housing protection to include additional protected classes such as sexual orientation, ancestry, marital status, age, source of income, or military status. While it’s important to know if there are additional protected classes in your area, it should not change your policies and practices. All persons should be treated fairly and equally.
A good rule of thumb for documentation is “just the facts.” Avoid documenting any opinion or observation that is not a fact of the situation at hand. Omit unnecessary references and notes, and just stick to the facts.
Recent Grace Hill training tips you may have missed:
About the author:
Ellen Clark is the Director of Assessment at Grace Hill. Her work has spanned the entire learner lifecycle, from elementary school through professional education. She spent over 10 years working with K12 Inc.’s network of online charter schools – measuring learning, developing learning improvement plans using evidence-based strategies, and conducting learning studies. Later, at Kaplan Inc., she worked in the vocational education and job training divisions, improving online, blended and face-to-face training programs, and working directly with business leadership and trainers to improve learner outcomes and job performance. Ellen lives and works in Maryland, where she was born and raised.
About Grace Hill
For nearly two decades, Grace Hill has been developing best-in-class online training courseware and administration solely for the Property Management Industry, designed to help people, teams and companies improve performance and reduce risk.