There are a couple of ways to look at employment lawsuits. The first one is to take the “What’s the worst that could happen?” approach. Managers who know that workers only win 1 percent of federal civil suits that go to trial are more likely to take this approach because they figure the odds are in their favor.
But the key phrase here is “on trial,” as a majority of cases get settled before they can ever get to that point. Your company can still lose a significant amount of money in a settlement. As a manager, you can also lose your job.
The best approach, then, is to acquire a basic understanding of employment laws and avoid lawsuits before they start. Here are four laws every manager needs to know.
Pay secrecy is a topic that benefits managements way more than it benefits workers. But managers who attempt to forbid employees from discussing their pay with each other are begging for a visit from employment lawyers.
For that, you can think a law that’s been around since the 1930s. The National Labor Relations Act says employees can have conversations about compensation.
Forcing your employees to sign non-disclosure agreements will not get you out of this one either, so don’t think that’s a valid loophole.
The Family Medical Leave Act allows employees who have been on the job for at least a year to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off without getting terminated. This is most commonly used by parents who just had a child, although it also applies to other situations.
On a federal level, this law is only relevant to companies who employ more than 50 people, although some state laws have set a different threshold.
A manager can’t interview a 60-year-old for a promotion and then say, “Sorry, but we’re going to give this to someone who is younger. You’ll be retiring soon anyway.”
Employment lawyers will tell you doing something like that violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and that means your office could be getting a visit from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
While you can’t discriminate against someone who is over 40 in favor of someone who is younger than 40, the opposite doesn’t hold true most of the time. Some state laws protect people who are younger than 40, but it’s not the norm.
An hourly employee working more than 40 hours a week must receive overtime pay. The Fair Labor Standards Act defines that as time-and-a-half.
What does that mean? If an employee works 45 hours a week at a normal rate of $10 an hour, that means they get the regular $10 an hour for the first 40 hours. But they should get $15 an hour for the other 5 hours.
An employee who doesn’t receive the proper amount of overtime pay can file a wage claim with their state’s Department of Labor.
Employment laws don’t exist to make life more difficult for managers. They exist to level the playing field between managers and the employees they supervise.
Your employees deserve fair treatment. If you have questions about the best way to accomplish that, we can help.
Contact us today to find out what our firm can do to help your office comply with federal and state laws.