July 1, 2010
Assessing your job descriptions and making them compliant with FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) should be done on a regular basis. This will assist a company in not only protecting themselves, but also allowing the employee to know what is expected of their position. For example:
1. Job A Has no FLSA Job Description, and hiring of an employee that you believe can do the job, can cause issues down the line when it is not clearly and legally stated that the job requires certain things, such as lifting, bending, stooping, and the percentage of the time of each of these.
2. Job B Has a FLSA Job Description that is presented to the candidate or current employee so that they know what exactly is required of them. Is this a way to get rid of an employee? No. Would this be a safety mechanism for the employer, Yes.
3. Job C Has no FLSA Job Description, and the company states that pregnant women cannot work in this position due to chemicals that may cause birth defects in unborn children.
In and amongst these three jobs there are dangers, cautions, and positives. They are:
– Dangers FLSA allows for an employer to only write a job description that informs the employee, not restrict the employee (i.e. Cannot work inside of a building, Cannot work in a certain area) Under no circumstances should an employer re-write a job description in order to cause an employee to be either re-assigned or terminated.
– Cautions Perfect example is Job C, as writing in the FLSA that there is a possible danger to Pregnant Women who work around chemicals that cause birth defects. You cannot keep a pregnant woman from working in that position, but even a waiver is loose for protection of the employer in case of litigation. One of the numerous chemicals is Ethylene Glycol Ether, checking your properly written Safety Manual and MSDS will tell you which ones are dangerous to this protected class of worker.
– Positives If the FLSA job description states clearly that there is repetitive lifting of 50 pounds of more, then an applicant that cannot do that, could be by-passed for one that can. For instance, John Doe applies and John has no ability to constantly lift 50 lbs or more, and Jane Doe applies for the same position and she can lift the weight, Jane is the obvious choice.
FLSA Job Descriptions can be confusing and if not done correctly be pages and pages long, to where if done correctly after an audit of these descriptions, simple and clean. There should be no or very little grey area in the description because that grey area is where employers get in trouble.
Call People Wise of Missouri, Inc. to complete this task, it is something that can give you as the employer a safety net, or a benchmark for issues that may arise.
This question is one that several employers ask themselves. To answer this question simply, protection. An effective, correctly written Employee Handbook can assist an employer not only protect them, but also cover themselves in the event of an Employee issue.
The Employee Handbook lists not only what an employer expects of an employee, but also what an employee expects of their employer. This relationship between employer and employee allows for the equal exchange of information, whether the company has 2 employees or 25,000 employees. Some of the many items that are in an effective handbook are:
1. Key Employment Policies
2. Federal Law Commitments
3. Definition of Employment.
4. Harassment Policies
5. Disciplinary Definitions
This Employee Handbook can be done with both At-Will employers, as well as C.B.A. (Collective Bargaining Agreement) employers. The wording within the handbook may be different with the two types, but the meat of the sandwich remains the same. Even if you have multiple locations in a city, state, or national, the verbiage or meat of the sandwich may be applicable to one place, but may need to be changed in another locality.
You do need to ask yourself as an employer, Do I have an effective Employee Handbook? If you cannot truthfully answer it with a resounding Yes, then a Handbook Legal Compliance Audit is in dire need. Writing an effective Employee Handbook in itself is not an easy task for business owners, as they have to run their businesses, not research the ins and outs of the applicable laws.
So take a moment, look around your desk, and find your Employee Handbook, and look at it and see if you are confident in it. If you are not confident, or if there is a single doubt about your Employee Handbook, it is time for an audit. These audits are simple and easy with a turn-around of about a work-week.
Call People Wise to complete this task, it is something that can give you as the employer a safety net, or a benchmark for issues that may arise.
October 7, 2008
I presented to a group a while back and used some scenarios to prompt discussion about best practices in dealing with Sexual Harassment complaints. The result was a very fun and engaging conversation.
Many people from the group asked for a copy of the quiz to use in their trainings. Here is just one of the scenarios with the discussion points.
The “He Said-She Said” Sexual Harassment Scenario
Jane works for Bob. After successfully completing a project, Bob tells Jane he will treat her to lunch. The next day, Jane sends an email to Bob’s supervisor: “Yesterday, Bob asked me to go to lunch with him. I was not sure that was right, but he’s my boss. At lunch, he propositioned me. I want something done about this.”
The supervisor knows Bob to be a dedicated family man. He does not know Jane very well, but has no reason to believe she is a liar. He calls Bob, and tells him what Jane said. Bob is outraged, and denies everything. The supervisor then calls Jane and tells her that Bob denies the accusation. He asks if there were any witnesses. Jane says there weren’t, but swears that what she said is true.
Faced with a “he said-she said situation”, the supervisor puts a memo in their files, and tells them both to act responsibly, and avoid any future situations that might cause problems.
Was Bob’s supervisor correct in conducting the investigation?
The story states that the supervisor knows bob well but does not know Jane very well. It is always best to have someone who is unbiased conduct the investigation. He should have either went to the HR department or (if no HR) hired an outside consultant to investigate.
Did Bob handle the investigation properly by only speaking to Bob and Jane?
Even though the story states that there were no witnesses to this particular incident it is always a good idea to conduct interviews with various people who have contact with the people involved. This may just be a symptom of a chronic problem that needs to be addressed.
Since the case turned out to be a “he said-she said” and no harassment was proven, was the supervisor correct in only documenting the claim and results of the investigation?
Both parties are clearly uncomfortable at this point. In order to avoid retaliation against Jane or further issues, I would try to move Jane under a different supervisor or into a different department….Although, one would have to be very careful that Jane was onboard with the move and would not be losing anything as it could be construed as retaliation if she viewed it as a demotion of any sort.
Remember that these are just the best answers in my opinion and should not be looked at as legal advice as I am not a lawyer. I designed this quiz to create conversation around best practices…not really to be a step-by-step guide. Every situation is different and you should always consult with an HR professional or an attorney on a case-by-case situation.