Five Ways Employers Get Themselves Sued.

Author:Demaria, Alfred T.
 
FREE EXCERPT

* There are several practices that get insurance industry employers into legal trouble when disciplining employees.

In no particular order, they are:

NOT TREATING YOUR "SIMILARLY SITUATED" EMPLOYEES EQUALLY

For the most part, the anti-discrimination laws require you to be consistent with raises, disciplinary action, application of your policies, and all other "terms and conditions" of employment. For example, when you are ready to discipline an employee, look at the way you've treated other employees who committed the same or similar offenses. Treat your current bad apple the same way.

Favoritism or nepotism are not illegal in themselves, but if you play favorites you are that much more likely to be accused of unlawful discrimination by employees who happen to be in a protected class. Chances are they qualify for at least one protected class status.

TREATING YOUR "SIMILARLY SITUATED" EMPLOYEES THE SAME

What? Didn't I just read that we must be consistent? Yes, but there are a few laws that require insurance industry executives to treat employees inconsistently. If an employee has a disability, a pregnancyrelated condition, or a religious need, you can't refuse accommodation on the ground that "we've never done that for anybody," or "if I did that for you, I'd have to do it for everybody." Consistency is usually a good thing, but if an employee needs a reasonable accommodation, you are required by law to at least consider treating that employee differently from the way you treat your other employees.

NOT PERIODICALLY MONITORING YOUR COMPENSATION FOR EQUITY

You can be sued for pay discrimination even if you don't discriminate! The best way to avoid any issue, and to avoid legal fees defending a case where you are innocent, is to conduct periodic equal pay audits. When you do, you'll invariably find at least one or two people whose pay just doesn't seem right--for whatever reason. When you find a pay disparity for which there is no good explanation, you can quietly make a correction, and everyone will live happily ever after. It may not be so easy to do that if you wait until after you're embroiled in an OFCCP audit or named in a discrimination charge or lawsuit.

FAILING TO PREVENT HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE, OR TO ACT PROMPTLY WHEN A HARASSMENT COMPLAINT IS RECEIVED

Every employer should have a no-harassment policy, and it should be in plain language that employees can understand. (If you have a multilingual workforce, then it should also be...

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