Today’s employment cases are seeing judgments and settlements into the millions, so it’s crucial to ensure your management and supervisory staff aren’t making any of these costly mistakes. Managers need to be as close-to-perfect as possible, because even a seemingly small mistake like a paperwork error can be detrimental to a business’s bottom line and result in penalties, fines, or even lawsuits.
Below are the top five management mistakes your staff might already be making and how you can fix them.
- Not Properly Addressing Harassment
Workplace harassment can be physical, verbal or both, but verbal harassment is most commonly experienced. Verbal harassment may include: slurs, name-calling, insults and even jokes or innuendos. The latter are often brushed off by management, insisting that the harasser is just kidding and means no harm.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has specific standards of liability that state that; 1) an employer is responsible for the acts of its supervisors, and 2) employers should be encouraged to prevent harassment and employees should be encouraged to avoid or limit the harm from harassment. If management isn’t properly addressing complaints of harassment it can result in a costly harassment case against the employer. To further the damage, incidents of workplace harassment are commonly associated with members of protected classes, which means discrimination charges are often added onto harassment lawsuits.
Employers need to properly train all management staff on how to properly address any and all harassment complaints; even the smallest and least serious complaints need to be reported. Implementing clear and concise harassment rules and guidelines is a good way to show all staff members that your company has a strong zero-tolerance attitude towards harassment in the workplace and that all complaints will be handled appropriately.
- Not Properly Following Wage and Hour Regulations
Wage and hour laws exist to protect workers’ rights with respect to their pay and hours worked. California has some of the most strict wage and hour regulations in the country, and not following them is a really easy way of being hit with fines and lawsuits. When overseeing multiple employees with varying shift times, it can be easy to miscalculate when someone should take their required meal or rest break. Doing so can result in penalties that include one hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate for every workday in which a meal break is not provided, plus additional fines and damages if a lawsuit is brought against the employer.
Implementing a meal and rest break policy that ensures employees take their breaks on time – regardless of workload – can help employers avoid costly wage and hour penalties. Managers should also be given tools that can help them easily keep track of time and attendance so that breaks are not overlooked.
- Inconsistently Applying Policies
It may not seem like a big deal, but if a manager were to look the other way regarding one employee’s actions but disciplined another employee for the same type of action, it could lead to a costly discrimination lawsuit. Workplace rules and regulations must be enforced equally with every worker. If an employee feels they have been unfairly treated, they can – and likely will – file a discrimination complaint with the EEOC.
Developing, distributing and encouraging regular review of an employee handbook that contains all of the companies policies and procedures and provides information regarding discipline to those who violate them can help ensure all employees are held to the exact same standards and avoid inconsistencies.
- Failure to Accommodate
If an employee is ill or injured, they may return to work with restrictions from their doctor. Depending on the type of work they do, these restrictions may require that some different accommodations be made on behalf of the employee. Not doing so, or changing the employee’s job position without their consent can cause a variety of issues, and the employee can sue under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
If an accommodation seems unreasonable, managers should work with employees to come up with a solution that both parties can agree on. In some cases this may include a restructuring of the employee’s position, but that should never be done without the employee’s input and consent in order to avoid a complaint.
- Failure to Document
Verbal warnings are common with employees who have minor performance issues. The problem with verbal warnings is that they can’t stand up as a record in the event more extreme measures have to be taken. Performance issues are a valid reason to let an employee go, but if the employee brings up a wrongful termination complaint and the employer doesn’t have written proof of these issues, the court will likely side with the employee.
Employers should have a system in place to document all performance issues and ensure that managers are giving written warnings for any issue that could lead to firing. Managers and supervisors should not only have clear guidelines for where to maintain documents, but should also be armed with a performance improvement plan template that keeps the process consistent for every employee.
Since 1995, Emplicity has provided a smarter, more secure, and integrated platform of employer services to its 300 business clients and their 8,500 employees. As a Professional Employer Organization, or PEO, the California-based HR outsourcing firm simplifies the compliance, administration, and support businesses need in the areas of employee benefits, payroll, and human resources technology.
NOTICE: Emplicity provides HR advice and recommendations. Information provided by Emplicity is not intended as a substitute for employment law counsel. At no time will Emplicity have the authority or right to make decisions on behalf of its clients.