The term “acid test” was reputedly coined during the gold rush, when prospectors used nitric acid on their findings to determine if what they found was really gold.  For those over a certain age, however, i.e., those who actually attended a Grateful Dead concert in San Francisco, it has a more colorful, evocative meaning.   

But in its figurative and idiomatic sense, the term has been defined as a “rigorous and crucial test to establish the value or success of something.” We use the term here in that context – as a critical question posed to employers to see if they have established successful employment policies and procedures that will insulate them from liability: 

Can YOU pass the acid test?

Do you have at least a basic understanding as to what the anti-discrimination employment laws are, what they are designed to do, who they are designed to protect, and what the results are if you are in violation of such laws?

Do you know how to hire employees, how to conduct interviews, what questions can and cannot be asked, and what can and cannot be done to check up on applicants’ backgrounds?  

Do you have a handbook, kept up-to-date, reflective of your well thought out employment policies and procedures? And one for each jurisdiction in which you have employees working? Do you, in fact, have such procedures?

Do you keep careful records documenting the performance of employees, so that in the event you have to terminate an employee you have a file which supports and substantiates the reason for your determination? 

Do you have a clearly defined and well distributed anti-discrimination policy, and a “zero tolerance” policy relating to sexual harassment?

Do your employees know where to go and what to do if they have a complaint of discrimination?

Do you have an EEO officer to handle any complaints of discrimination made by employees? And do the employees know who this person is?     

Do you have a policy for investigating and remediating — at the earliest possible time — any complaints of discrimination made by employees?

Do you conduct anti-harassment and/or anti-discrimination training seminars on a yearly basis for both managers and employees?

Do you communicate to your employees, both in words and deeds, that you are truly an equal opportunity employer?  

These are just a few of the requirements in order to “pass the acid test.”

Can you do it?