LEGAL ISSUES TO WATCH IN THE SECOND HALF OF 2012

WHAT ARE THE LEGAL ISSUES HUMAN RESOURCES NEEDS TO WATCH IN THE SECOND HALF OF 2012?

The first holiday weekend of the summer season is over and now is a good time for Human Resources to take a step back and focus on the big picture. Take a look at a few potential legal snares that very well might crop up in the second half of 2012.

Retaliation – Employers are learning that when an employee cannot win discrimination, harassment or other type of lawsuit against the company, these employees are finding it easier to win retaliation claims. Retaliation claims have become the most frequent and costly cases being heard in the courts.

Are you facing a retaliation claim? First normal response – anger. However, don’t get angry, step back, impose a “cooling off” period after a charge is made and clearly think about your response. Remember – you not only have to deal with the employee who made the charge, but there’s a potential you may have to deal with a new class of “suers” – those who have an interest in the employee, such as significant others and family members.

HarassmentA new type of harassment claim is on the horizon, bullying in the workplace. Companies would do well to revise their harassment policy to include this new form of harassment. Your policy should be broad enough to encompass this non-traditional type of harassment which is causing an influx of new claims. Remember to issue your updated handbook and distribute to employees.

Social Media– Here we go again, Social Media’s in the headlines. Your company may already have a social media policy, however, it is time to update it. Most employers ban employees from discussing wages and other working conditions with co-workers in any forum, including on their Facebook pages. However, thanks to the National Labor Relations Board, and its edict to all companies, it is now illegal. Friendly tip: Don’t friend the NLRB on Facebook.

Performance ReviewsPerformance reviews continue to come back to haunt companies especially in the hands of plaintiff’s attorneys. To minimize risk, performance reviews should be simple, clear and truthful, even if it hurts. And, this is a big one, make performance reviews a continuous process not a one-time event.

Overtime Beware of the new “overtime” trap. Providing company smartphones to a non-exempt employee could cost you overtime wages. If a non-exempt employee checks “anything” on the company smart phone after hours, it is entirely possible they could be “on the clock” earning overtime.

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