In a previous blog post, I explored four areas of great concern to employers in the field of labor and employer-employee relations. Now, I take a look at another four issues that are potentially more challenging:
There is a complex web of jurisdiction to consider in order to comply with discrimination laws; in some areas, for example, employers may to contend with more laws and regulations at the state level than the federal. This is because, in part, most federal discrimination laws only apply to companies with at least 15 employees whereas state laws may set this minimum at just one employee. Be sure to carefully review the state and local laws on discrimination wherever your company does business.
Additionally, the number of protected classifications under discrimination laws has expanded in recent years to include sexual orientation, national origin, arrest record, pregnancy status, and others. As a result, be sure carefully review which employees or candidates are protected in order to avoid running afoul of the law.
Employers have an obligation to create a safe work environment for employees. This means that employers must either supply employees with proper safety equipment or require them to have it; provide employees with information on hazards stemming from particular activities or materials; and making sure that all relevant safety standards, policies, and laws are followed.
Furthermore, since the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) can conduct inspections of your work site without notice and issue citations. Therefore, the best way to protect your business from OSHA and from a workplace accident is to establish clear safety practices that comply with state and federal policies and to strictly enforce them.
Employees may have a reasonable expectation of privacy even when they are at work or when they use employer-provided facilities and resources, which creates myriad potential for privacy concerns. In many situations, employers can avoid issue by simply giving notice that employees are being monitored or are subject to tests or searches.
Family and Medical Leave Act
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) creates a number of competing requirements at the federal and state levels, and in these conflicts, deference is typically given to whichever statute offers the greatest benefit to employees. As a result, businesses with locations in different states may have different obligations under the FMLA, so their first step should be to ensure that their workplace policies comply with the law, wherever they may be.
Employers can use this article and its companion to guide their thinking on employee relations, but the work of crafting and reviewing workplace policies requires an expert hand. For help, contact me directly at Koppekin Consulting, Inc. by email at Stephen@KoppekinConsulting.com or by visiting my website.