If your business doesn't have dedicated human resources support, then your organization could be liable for a number of federal, state, and local employment law violations. This legislation was put into place to protect employees against discrimination, harassment, and nepotism. Human resources professionals protect both employees and employers by managing conflicts, ensuring legal compliance, and instituting fair hiring, termination, and promotion practices. Here are a few examples of HR liabilities that business leaders should be aware of and actively preventing.
There are a number of federal laws in place to prevent workplace discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prevents employers from discriminating on the basis of race, national origin, sex, religion, and color. The American Disabilities Act also prevents discriminatory practices based on the physical or mental abilities of an employee. Human resources professionals have a thorough understanding of these laws, and ensure that hiring, compensation, termination, benefits, and recruitment policies do not deliberately or inadvertently discriminate against these protected classes. If an employer violates these laws, employers can take action against a business by filing a discrimination claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Employers are expected to protect the privacy of their employees. Businesses must comply with the federal Privacy Act and any local and state legislation regarding employee information. Data leaks could potentially put employees at risk. For example, identification information, such as social security numbers and addresses can open workers up to the risk of identity theft. Human resources professionals can make sure that employee records are protected with a number of workflow and tech protocols. HR teams also keep an eye on changes to local and state legislation, which can change disclosure and recordkeeping processes.
Pregnancy and Childcare Protections
Businesses must take particular care to avoid discrimination against women based on pregnancy or pregnancy related health issues. For example, a 2010 addition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires that employers provide nursing mothers with appropriate time for breastfeeding. Nursing mothers must also have access to a clean and private space that is not a bathroom to express breast milk. Companies are also obligated under federal and state laws to provide pregnant mothers with certain benefits under the Family and Medical Leave Act. This ensures that expecting mothers have enough time to give birth and recover from pregnancy-related medical conditions, without the fear of termination, loss of benefits, and other types of discriminatory action.
HR professionals are adept at handling workplace conflicts, which might include verbal, physical, or sexual harassment. These incidents can quickly lead to an unsafe workplace environment, which can significantly hurt a business. Business leaders should never ignore these situations. Harassment in the workplace can manifest in many forms, including unwanted physical contact, cussing, damaging workplace furnishings, yelling, or vulgar gestures. These behaviors can make employees extremely uncomfortable, disrupting workplace operations and impacting the wellbeing of your workers. Harassment incidents should be addressed quickly to prevent these situations from escalating. Businesses should invest in professional HR services to ensure that workplace mediation and harassment complaints are addressed in a way that complies with local, state, and federal legislation.
It can be impossible for companies to navigate HR concerns on their own. Organizations can minimize liability and improve work conditions by investing in a skilled HR team. These professionals can protect your from business litigation by ensuring compliance with employment laws.