How many kids do you have? Where does your husband work?
When meeting someone new, these are harmless questions that help us get to know the other person. If you’re interviewing a job applicant, though, these questions could get you in trouble.
When it comes to employer responsibilities, and employee laws, knowing which practices or policies will get your business into hot water with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a necessity. Here’s the business owner’s guide to Employer Best Practices:
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What is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)? It’s the government agency that enforces federal laws regarding discrimination, disability, genetic information, etc. The group assesses allegations against employers, makes findings, and, if necessary, settles charges. The EEOC can also file lawsuits against employers they believe have violated the law.
Here’s a summary of common illegal employment practices:
Federal law prohibits discrimination against an applicant or employee “because of that person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.” In addition, employers may not retaliate against a person because they complain about discrimination, file a charge, or participate in a discrimination lawsuit or investigation.
It’s one of the critical responsibilities of employers to avoid discrimination in every aspect of hiring and employment, including training, discipline, employment references, pay and benefits, etc.
A comprehensive interview provides important insight into a potential employee. The challenge is that some questions are typically irrelevant to determining if a person is the right fit for a position. For example, employers may not ask applicants about marital status or what church they attend. There are exceptions, called bona fide occupational qualifications (BFOQ), but in most sectors those won’t apply—so be sure to identify and implement your employer responsibilities regarding the interview process.
Dress Code Policies
Employers are allowed to implement a dress code that covers all employees or employees who occupy a certain job category, even if the dress code conflicts with a worker’s beliefs or practices. However, a dress code can’t treat an employee differently strictly because of their national origin.
Accommodation & Disability
As an employer, you’re legally obligated to provide reasonable accommodation to employees or applicants with disabilities unless doing so incurs significant expense or difficulty. For instance, it may be an employer responsibility to provide a ramp for a staff member who uses a wheelchair.
Avoid expensive litigation and headache-inducing investigations.
Educate yourself on the various employer laws that you will be held accountable for knowing. Provide guidance for your managers about employer responsibility regarding the illegal employment practices that will get you into trouble. Start reviewing the full list of regulations by visiting the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Prohibited Employment Policies/Practices page. It’s worth emphasizing that not knowing about the employee laws that affect your management decisions could lead to difficult times ahead for your business.
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