The process of hiring an employee can be long and difficult. In today’s climate it’s more important than ever to make sure that you are getting the most effective and quality employees, but there are many pitfalls in terms of interviewing and employment law. Your managers must be well-trained in both of these areas to ensure that you are taking the right steps to bolster your workforce.
Basics of Employment Law
The dangers of crossing a line in legal terms during the hiring process are very real. We live in a litigious society and hiring managers must be aware and conscious of the steps they take during the hiring process. Discrimination is one of the biggest issues faced these days. You must be careful not to make hiring decisions based on issues such as race, gender, disability, religion, age, national origin or any other bias.
If you ask such a basic question during an interview as when an applicant graduated from high school, you could be targeted for age discrimination. It is illegal to ask an applicant if they are married or have children, as this can lead to bias in hiring.
Affirmative action has been put in place to remedy past discrimination issues. It guarantees that minorities will be given an equal opportunity for work if they are equally or better qualified than other candidates. However, this process can be tricky as well. It is generally permitted when there is evidence of past discrimination against minorities in a given job or industry. The courts are beginning to take a very narrow view of what this means.
Many managers simply are not adept at interviewing because they have not been properly trained in the kinds of questions to ask, and how to analyze the responses. Behavioral interviewing is recommended by many experts. In this sort of interview, questions focus on past performance, teamwork, competencies and concrete examples of skill use.
Rather than asking what people might do in a situation, hiring managers should ask what they have done, for example. While many supervisors might fight against this kind of legal training for managers based on their own experience, it is an important means of not only getting good information, but avoiding questions that could open you up to legal problems during the interview process.
Other Legal Issues
Other issues that employers need to be aware of include harassment, retaliation, wage and hour issues, privacy, military service and leave and safety in the workplace. Each of these carries specific concerns for the modern workplace and your managers must be well-versed in how they affect you.
Legal training for managers should include familiarity with the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. The Family and Medical Leave Act is also a vital federal law with which employers must be familiar; many lawsuits result from violations of this act.
In order to avoid problems with liability and lawsuits related to the issues listed above and others, supervisors and managers must be effectively trained in documentation and performance evaluations. When there are issues of employee misconduct or performance, these issues must be thoroughly documented, not only for the purposes of making the right disciplinary decisions but ensuring defense against legal retribution from dissatisfied employees.
When performance issues and evaluations are not properly documented, this opens the door for wrongful discharge, discrimination and harassment lawsuits by employees. The proper documentation of such issues, on the other hand, provides a strong defense against these kinds of suits.
The Employee Handbook
An employee handbook is also a strong defense against lawsuits. Your managers and supervisors should not only be well-versed in the contents of your handbook, but thoroughly educated in how to edit, expand, clarify and create such a document. They should be taught what needs to go into the handbook, how to present the information and how to present it to staff.
Thorough and effective training in interview processes and employment law should be a vital part of your company’s hiring process.