The Legal Environment: Equal Employment Opportunity and Safety

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CHAPTER 3
The Legal Environment: Equal Employment Opportunity and Safety

Chapter Summary

The legal environment is one of the critical environmental factors that affects the management of people. This chapter first describes the U.S. legal system, including the legislative bodies, regulatory agencies, and judicial bodies whose decisions affect the legality of HRM practices. Major laws and executive orders, particularly those pertaining to elements of discrimination, are then reviewed. Four theories of discrimination are presented along with court case examples. Next, sexual harassment and the Americans with Disabilities Act are discussed. Finally, the chapter reviews what policies and practices employers may develop regarding employee safety.

Learning Objectives

After studying this chapter, the student should be able to:

1. Identify the three branches of government and the role each plays in influencing the legal environment of human resource management.

2. List the major federal laws that require equal employment opportunity and the protections provided by each of these laws.

3. Discuss the roles, responsibilities, and requirements of the federal agencies responsible for enforcing equal employment opportunity laws.

4. Identify the three theories of discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and apply these theories to different discrimination situations.

5. Identify behavior that constitutes sexual harassment and list things that an organization can do to eliminate or minimize it.

6. Discuss the legal issues involved with preferential treatment programs.

7. Identify the major provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (1970) and the rights of employees that are guaranteed by this act

Extended Chapter Outline

Note: Key terms appear in boldface and are listed in the “Chapter Vocabulary” section.

Opening Vignette: Competitive Advantage at Home Depot?

The opening vignette describes the situation at Home Depot. Current and former female employees, as well as rejected applicants, have brought a lawsuit against Home Depot charging it with gender stereotyping certain positions. Home Depot argues that if it were to hire employees by quota, it would lose its competitive advantage that ultimately beat the competition in the past.

I. Introduction

A. Understanding how the legislative, regulatory, and judicial systems work to define equal employment opportunity prepares a manager to manage people while staying within the legal constraints.

II. The Legal System in the United States—The Constitution sets forth the foundation of our system.

A. The legislative branch of the federal government consists of the House of Representatives and the Senate. These bodies enact laws that govern many HR activities.

Example: Congress enacted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which ensured minority groups equal opportunity in a number of areas.

B. The executive branch consists of the president of the United States and the regulatory agencies the president oversees.

1. The president can propose bills to Congress, which if passed, become law.

2. The president has veto power over bills passed by Congress.

3. Regulatory agencies, under the authority of the president, have responsibility for enforcing the law.

4. The president can issue executive orders that regulate the activities of organizations that have contracts with the federal government.

5. The president can influence the Supreme Court through the arguments of the attorney general.

6. The president appoints all judges in the federal judicial system, subject to legislative branch approval. (President Clinton has the opportunity to appoint a large number of judges, potentially changing the predominant judicial philosophy.)

C. The judicial branch consists of the federal court system made up of three...
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