Many companies may not realize the error of their ways when they are conducting day-to-day business. However, naiveté of employment obligations is not a defense in the eyes of the law. Following is a list of frequent errors made by employers that tend to be easily avoidable with knowledge of their existence:
- Misclassifying employees as independent contractors. Most personnel are employees in the eyes of the law. Generally, employers do not have the same control over independent contracts, since they tend to be wholly distinct entities from the employer. Employees, and not independent contractors, are eligible for workplace protections. An employer may also be vicariously liable for the actions of an employee, but not an independent contractor.
- Misclassifying employees as exempt, when they are non-exempt. Exemptions to minimum wage and overtime rules only apply in limited circumstances.
- Not complying with state wage legal guidelines. Several states impose laws regarding notice of pay, prohibitions on wage deductions, and rights on filing for unemployment benefits.
- Not creating an employee handbook. An employee handbook is essential for informing workers of the company’s values, policies, and procedures. It may promote compliance and help make the workplace more efficient.
- Not documenting worker’s job performance. It is important to provide workers with feedback on their duties and responsibilities. Regularly documenting such feedback may save the company from suit if a terminated employee believes the termination was erroneous.
- Not training supervisors on EEOC legislation. Training supervisors on anti-discrimination laws may keep them from violating these laws while overseeing employees. Supervisors may also pass on this information to fellow employees.
- Not providing reasonable accommodations for disabled workers or workers with religious obligations. Employers generally must reasonably accommodate these types of employees unless such accommodation would classify as an undue hardship on the employer.
- Not obtaining a release from terminated employees. Such a waiver would release the employer from a potential future suit brought by the terminated employee. A little consideration will go a long way: offer the terminated employee a severance package in exchange for their signature on the waiver.
- Not protecting confidential business information. Protect the company’s trade secrets and other vital information by keeping it on a “need to know” basis. Only inform key trustworthy employees of such information. Depending on the nature of the information, it will be helpful to have employees sign a non-disclosure, non-compete, and/or non-solicitation agreement.
- Not consulting with an employment law attorney. Only an attorney with experience in the field can ensure that your company is in compliance with all laws.
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