Personnel Management and Liability Issues

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Angelina H. Kirkham|
Personnel Management and Liability Issues
Business Law |

There are many issues in the business world today that should concern management in regard to employment liabilities. In the last twenty years, the number of legal claims brought against employers, specifically human resources departments, has gone up tremendously. The human resources department of any company must be aware of the legal ramifications of its actions, and ensure that any issues are fully understood to keep the company protected from legal action. The issues that will be discussed in this paper could result in employment related lawsuits and fall under the following categories: hiring practices, discipline practices, and termination practices. Within these categories there are several issues that could ultimately end up in litigation. These would include: employment at will, equal employment opportunity, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and sexual harassment. It is not uncommon for lawsuits to be filed claiming a breach of any one of these issues.

First of all, it is important for a company to remember that the best way to protect itself from legal action is by setting clear and concise goals, policies, and procedures. Everything must be written down so that if something that is not currently an issue becomes an issue, the bases are covered as far as dates, times and documentation.

The hiring practices of a company must comply with Labor laws and Federal Antidiscrimination laws. Equal employment opportunity and the Americans with Disabilities Act would be two of these laws that should be included in the training processes of hiring managers. Equal Employment Opportunity Laws are those which prohibit employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, and are included in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. [ (Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination Questions and Answers) ] The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating against people with disabilities in any aspect of employment; including interviews, hiring, evaluations, compensation, benefits, promotions, layoffs, and firing. [ (Federal Antidiscrimination Laws) ] A person with a disability is defined under ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. [ (Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination Questions and Answers) ] Lawsuits have been filed because of a company violating the civil rights of prospective or current employees. An example of a lawsuit filed for a violation of Equal Employment Opportunity Law is Albermarle Paper Company v. Moody, which was filed because testing was done to choose which candidate to hire, and this testing discriminated against women and minorities. The action of the Human Resources department that should be taken to prevent such a lawsuit would be to ensure that women and minorities are NOT being excluded from the pool of applicants by any policy, practice custom or usage that is not directly related to the ability to perform the job. A lawsuit filed for a violation of the ADA does not necessarily have to be intentional. Things such as accessible curbsides and restrooms must be addressed within every company. In the case of Munson v. Del Taco, Inc., a disabled man sued Del Taco after complaining that its restaurant in California did not provide disabled parking or handicapped-accessible public toilets. As a result of this lawsuit, which claimed discrimination against disabled persons, Del Taco spent $75,000 on renovations to make the parking lot and restrooms handicapped-accessible. Employment law issues do not stop with the hiring process. Once an employee is hired, issues can arise that would constitute filing a lawsuit for discrimination and...
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