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Top 10 Things Employers Do to Get Sued (Part 2)

Continuing on from last week, we are discussing the Top 10 Things Employers Do to Get Sued. We are primarily referencing California Labor Law, other states do not follow the same statutes. If you can survive California’s Labor Laws, you can probably survive anywhere! Here’s the rest of the story…

Increase Production – Let Employees Work Through Lunch Breaks on Busy Days
Employers and employees are frequently guilty of working through lunch or skipping lunch break altogether in order to leave early, but the law is clear, employees must take meal breaks on schedule.

The law says employers must provide the means, the time and the opportunity for employees to take at least a 30 minute meal break after 5 and a half hours of work. When employers allow employees to skip this break it sets a precedent and opens up the opportunity for an overzealous attorney to claim the employer never required that employees take meal breaks. Set the policy and stick with it, no excuses.

Avoid Employment All Together – Make Everyone an Independent Contractor
Sure, it’s much easier this way – no compliance paperwork, workers compensation, tax withholding, payroll or employment law liability, but don’t be too quick to take the easy path.

As tempting as it may sound to classify your fringe workers as independent contractors, think twice, the EDD and the IRS are working together to crack down on misclassified employees and are seeking to boost their dwindling revenue in this slow economy. With Obamacare looming, more and more businesses are skirting the fine line so these government agencies are in full force looking for violators.

Avoid Sensitive Subjects – Don’t Teach Your Employees About Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is a huge liability and productivity killer if it’s left unfettered. Not only is the law clear that you must educate your employees, it’s part of the process of protecting your business.

Every business must notify employees about the risks of sexual harassment and provide a channel for complaints without fear of retaliation. As an employer, you can’t always prevent someone in your organization from committing harassment, but you are responsible to react properly and take the correct course of action if harassment is reported or witnessed at your business.

Save Time and Hire Quickly – Don’t Worry About the Candidate That Wasn’t Hired
There are plenty of lawsuit happy people out there just looking for the opportunity to sue a rich business owner. You must document your new hire process to avoid discriminating against anyone.

You may feel you have chosen the right person based on experience, presentation, education or just plain intuition. That’s not the one you have to worry about. What about the candidate that wasn’t selected? Are they part of a protected class? Do they have similar background and education? Do your due diligence and document every reference check, interview and hiring decision you make.

Time Clocks are Such a Hassle – The Employees Can Just Write Down the Times They Come and Go
Tracking time is one of the simplest yet challenging aspects of employment. Many business owners do not take this seriously enough and find trouble when they wind up in court with poor documentation.

Every employer is responsible to track their employees time on the job, from start time to end time, and any time off in-between. The key points in tracking time is that it is accurate, unaltered (without employee approval) detailed. It must show meal breaks, overtime, start and end times, and be documented in a format that is official in nature. The courts show no favor to employers here.

Again, these are just a few of the traps employers find themselves in when they fail to use “Best Practices” HR management techniques and make every effort to follow the law. Many times in our experience at Champion, employers have a good intention when they lay down rules or make decisions concerning employees. Unfortunately, the lawmakers in California, and many other states make it far more complicated than common sense would dictate.

Don’t guess, don’t take shortcuts, get professional help to make sure you are avoiding the minefield of California Labor Law.

  • 24 Sep, 2014
  • Tom Elias

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