Did you know that you, as a manager, can be held personally liable for HR violations under employment law? A number of laws, both federal and state, hold supervisors, middle management and HR managers personally liable in lawsuits brought up under fair employment standards. Here is a look at how a manager is responsible for employment law violations, and how you can avoid defending yourself in court.
Employment Law Violations
Federal and state laws hold managers personally liable for employment law violations. These include the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), federal Family Leave and Medical Act (FMLA), and a variety of state tort and nondiscrimination laws that cover referrals, defamation, retaliation, hiring processes, and other workplace issues.
Where You Are Not Liable
On the upside for employers, laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act, and the ADEA or Age Discrimination in Employment Act do not hold decision and policy-makers liable for violations. This has been supported almost universally by appellate courts across the nation.
The Cost of Defense
Even still, the costs of defending yourself against an accusation of legal violation can be steep, as much as $150,000 even in situations where the case is dismissed, according to an SHRM article. If the case is not dismissed, the legal fees, fines and penalties can be even steeper.
Usually, when an employee makes an accusation of employment law violations, they go after the company or the company’s owner. However, in many cases blame can be shifted to the person who sets policy and pay. This means that the more control you have over your relationship with your workers, the more likely it is that you can be designated as the employer for purposes of a lawsuit.
Referrals and Hiring
Referrals are a dangerous thing in today’s workplace. It has long been held as truth that you should avoid giving potentially slanderous or libelous information during a reference, and that it is better to refuse the reference without details.
It goes the other way as well, however. If you give a good review and it comes to light that the employee did something to deserve firing, especially if that behavior repeats itself at the new job, you may be liable for negligent referral.
Likewise, employers who fail to check references or backgrounds and hire a worker engages in gross misconduct that leads to lawsuits, could be accused of negligent hiring.
To avoid employment law violations, you must know the law inside and out, and ensure that it is followed at every level of your business. Keep your policies up to date and give your staff and managers regular training. Do your due diligence, always follow through and always document your actions. Communicate honestly and respectfully at all times. Finally, consider bringing an expert HR services firm on board to help you establish a business-centric method of compliance that sets you up for success. Quad West can help in this area. Take some time to review our services, and get in touch for more information today.