Conducting Legal Background Checks On Applicants And Employees

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

With the number of harassment, discrimination and other employee lawsuits growing, besides examining their internal policies, employers need to be careful about who they hire. Apart from calling previous employers and schools and checking for any lawsuits with the courts, many businesses will also consider using a vendor to do a background check and to look at an applicant’s social media posts. The key to staying on the right side of the law is following the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Despite its name, the law covers more than just credit checks. It governs how an employer or a third…
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Addressing Workplace Bullying Can Head off Lawsuits

| posted in Blog, Newsletter

While poor employment practices, harassment and discrimination are coming to the forefront in the U.S., one workplace liability that organizations should not overlook is bullying. Social media trends have shined the spotlight on a variety of ways people are treated poorly, but the bullying focus has mostly been on schools and not workplaces, which can be breeding grounds for bullying as well. And workplace bullying can lead to lawsuits against your organization, in addition to possible workers’ comp claims. There has been a bit of an epiphany recently that many employment practices lawsuits concerning stress in the workplace, psychiatric injury,…
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Businesses Pay Record Amounts for Lawsuits over Employee Treatment

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Employers are paying out more for legal settlements and judgments for cases brought by employees over how they are being treated. According to the employment law firm of Seyfarth Shaw LLP, settlements for the 10 biggest class-action suits brought by employees grew an astounding 55% to $2.72 billion in 2017 from $1.75 billion the year prior. The trend in employee class actions reflects a similar trend of individual actions, which should be a wake-up call for employers to review their human resources policies and practices. These cases include claims for: • Wage-and-hour violations (such as insufficient pay, failure to pay…
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#MeToo Movement to Spawn Wave of Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

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After revelations of sexual misconduct by a number of high-power executives, media personalities and politicians last year spawned the #MeToo movement, defense lawyers are predicting a record number of sexual harassment lawsuits will be filed against employers in the coming year. The #MeToo movement has emboldened women who have been sexually harassed, abused or worse by a work superior or co-worker to come out and tell their stories. Any employer whose workers were subjected to this kind of behavior is at risk of being sued, regardless of whether or not the employer knew about the incident. The costs of sexual…
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New Law Expands Anti-Harassment Training Requirements

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Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into a law a measure that expands the anti-sexual harassment training requirements for California employers. As you probably know, current law requires employers with 50 or more workers to hold two hours of anti-sexual harassment training for supervisors every two years. The law and subsequent regulations by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing outline the training requirements. The new law, SB 396, expands the subjects of that training to also include harassment based on gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. The training must include specific examples of such harassment. This portion of…
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Respond quickly and effectively to harassment, discrimination complaints

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Employers need to respond swiftly when employees complain about discrimination or harassment and the response must be effective, a U.S. District appeals court has held. When a company addresses workplace it is responsible for ensuring that its solution will stave off further harassment or discrimination, a court of appeals has held in a case of a father and son who were eventually fired after complaining about harassment. The case illustrates the need for an employer to not only act swiftly to respond and investigate claims of harassment or discrimination, but also to ensure that any remedies that are put in…
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New Workplace Notice Requirements Take Effect

| posted in Blog

IF YOU have more than five employees you are required to have in place as of April 1 anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and complaint investigation policies. You are also required to post starting April 1 a notification to your employees about California’s pregnancy disability leave law. The regulations, updated by the California Fair Employment and Housing Council, were spurred by recent court decisions. If you have not done so, now is the time to review your anti-harassment, discrimination and retaliation policies. Steps You Need to Take Now • Include a mechanism that permits employees to complain to someone other than his or…
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How to Reduce Your Liability during Company Holiday Party

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If you’re throwing your staff a Christmas party this year, don’t forget that holiday soirees also mean increased liability for workers’ comp, harassment and third-party injuries. For example, did you know that if one of your staff is injured at your holiday party it could trigger a workers’ comp claim, since it could be considered “within the course and scope of employment”? Workers’ comp and employment law attorneys have different opinions about this, but the overriding consensus is that some of it could become a workers’ comp claim if: • Attendance is mandatory, regardless of whether it’s expressed or implied….
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Reduce Chance of Lawsuits with Strong Employee Handbook

| posted in Blog

The legal threat is constantly growing for businesses, not only from outside the organization by business partners or customers, but also from within – by employees. Currently the bigger threat is being sued by your own staff for running afoul of a smorgasbord of statutes like labor, wage and hour, worker classification, discrimination and harassment laws. As an employer you need to be aware of the many threats errant policies may pose to your organization’s financial wellbeing. One lawsuit by a disgruntled or wronged employee with a large award or hefty attorney fees can sink a small business. Part of…
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