Managing a workforce requires employers to make employment decisions… hasty decisions can have costly consequences. On a daily basis, I receive questions from employers, on employment related issues. Can I terminate this employee because they are on LOA? Can I lay off this employee who filed a sex harassment claim? How long do I have to store personnel records? Employment related decisions have the potential of unexpected consequences. Virtually every human resources decision can trigger unexpected or unintended consequences. In the rush to address the obvious issues, managers and HR professionals may fail to fully understand the changes to employment law.
Employment law changes led to The California Department of Fair Employment Housing (DFEH) filing 17,632 complaints against employers.DFEH is aggressively going after employers. Making an employment practice that was ok, is a violation of the act now. Most claims have two or more charges FMLA, ADA, or retaliation.
Decisions that can lead to employer liability:
Leave of absence: Employers need to enter into an interactive process. Most situations will require the granting of additional leave.
Organizational downsizing or layoffs: Employers need to develop a selection process and follow it. They need to ensure the process is not discriminatory.
Inconsistent enforcement of employee policies: Can lead to discrimination claims.
Poorly written documentation: Poorly worded e-mails hurt employers. Employers need to be clear on their expectations. They need to develop a process that treats employees with dignity and respect by teaching the management team, effective communication skills. If it is in writing, it is generally discoverable in a lawsuit.
HR issues can very quickly slide into retaliation claims.
Getting HR guidance can save you money! Having employment practices that treat all employees with dignity and respect leads to an engaged workforce.