Business owners know a lot goes into making and keeping that business successful. While having a product or service that is in demand is of course a vital part of keeping a company going, equally important is how the business is run. Minimizing legal exposure can have a great impact on the bottom line. Matters leading to litigation could arise in many areas of the business, including where employees are concerned.
Greenbelt MD Employment Law Blog
There are many matters that businesses must address to be successful. Some of those matters include staying abreast of laws that pertain to their employees. The failure to adhere to the employment laws in place could result in costly litigation. Because employment laws are always changing it is important that businesses stay aware of those changes so they don't inadvertently violate any laws.
Workers in all types of employment settings could find that they are being retaliated against in the workplace. This is true where federal employees are concerned as well. In fact, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been keeping records on the topic and has identified some trends.
Since 2008, retaliation is the basis of discrimination most frequently alleged by employees working for the federal government. There are multiple activities that could constitute retaliation, including the harassment, demotion or firing of an employee who filed a discrimination complaint. Those who oppose discrimination or participated in a discrimination claim can likewise not be retaliated against. In the most recent year the EEOC has information for, 2013, close to half of all complaints filed with the EEOC were based on retaliation.
In our last post we wrote about the importance of having and implementing a sexual harassment policy, in part because it may be used by an employer to defend against claims filed. Recently, an employer in another state used this defense against race discrimination and harassment claims that were leveled against it.
The claim was filed by a man who, while working as a delivery driver, underwent on-the-job training from a fellow worker. When he failed to show up for work one day and was contacted by his supervisor, the employee said he had been harassed and discriminated against because of his race. Specifically, he said his trainer talked about the Ku Klux Klan and made comments related to race. He also said that because of his race he was not properly trained.
At some point within the life of a business it is possible that a legal dispute related to employment will arise. In addition to being disruptive to the business, incidents of this nature can be expensive, both in terms of money and time. These matters can also negatively impact the work environment, decreasing employee morale. This is true in a wide variety of situations including allegations of sexual harassment by employee.
When an employee at a business believes that he or she has been discriminated against, that person might report the matter to his or her employer. Once a report is made, the employer needs to commence an investigation into the issue. When doing so, there are certain things the employer should keep in mind to protect itself.
The first is to take action in a timely manner. As soon as a report is received, it is a good idea to examine documentation related to the employees involved including records, reviews and any previous reports of discriminatory behavior that may exist. At this point, the case file could also include any text messages or e-mails that were sent between the parties.
In our last post, we discussed the fact that employers should take into consideration several things before deciding for or against litigation in the event of a dispute. Failing to do so could wind up costing an employer much more than money.
Thankfully, many people have the help of an attorney when they find themselves involved in an employment dispute. An attorney can help people assess the reality of the situation and take a look at the bigger picture. Oftentimes, this means negotiating a settlement and avoiding litigation. That appears to be the route one company took recently.
As many business owners in Maryland know, difficult decisions are rarely black-and-white. Many decisions can be reached only after considering several potential solutions, predicting the short- and long-term repercussions of each option and weighing the pros and cons.
The same can be said when it comes to resolving employment disputes. Employers may be tempted to believe or misled into thinking that they only have two options: fight against allegations in court or offer up a significant settlement to the plaintiff. However, there are many different ways that these situations are resolved that fall somewhere in the middle. So, before you make a snap decision that could ultimately work against you as an employer, you should stop and consider a few important things.
If you are an employer in Maryland who has employees receiving minimum wage, you should have recently revisited your payment structures. This is because as of July 2015, the state minimum wage increased from $8.00 to $8.25 per hour.
That quarter-dollar increase may not seem like that big of a deal, but to the employees collecting the paycheck, it can make a huge difference. Additionally, employers who failed to adjust wages since the increase could face serious penalties for wage violations. However, it is important to keep in mind that not every single employer in this state is required to pay employees minimum wage. There are some important exceptions.
The importance of taking swift and deliberate action in light of sexual harassment claims on the job cannot be overstated. Employers are supposed to take these types of allegations very seriously and make a reasonable effort to investigate the claims and enforce any consequences, if necessary.
However, too many employers make the mistake of thinking that they can do these things and then forget all about an incident involving harassment. This can be an unwise decision as there could still be penalties for employers whose efforts to combat harassment, while present, do not go far enough in protecting employees.