Steer Managers Clear of Common Legal Mistakes

Managers typically aren't as familiar as HR professionals with employment laws and often land organizations in legal hot water. When it comes to equal employment opportunity obligations, health and wellness initiatives, wage and hour issues, and labor relations and other concerns, a host of laws mandate what employers can and can't do. Managers need to know the ins and outs of these laws, and it's up to HR to help get them up to speed.

According to author Natasha Bowman in You Can't Do That at Work: 100 Legal Mistakes That Managers Make in the Workplace (Performance ReNEW Publishing, 2017), HR has its work cut out for it. The book provides a handy list of some of the most common managerial missteps, including:

  • Letting complaints about high-value employees slide.
  • Allowing nonexempt workers to work through lunch unpaid.
  • Retaliating against former employees.
  • Managerial misperceptions are plentiful as well, such as:Believing that as long as a decision-maker is in the same protected class as the complainant, there can be no discrimination.
  • Thinking the only religious beliefs that must be accommodated are those that relate to traditional religions.
  • Being unaware that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act covers conditions related to past pregnancies as well as intended and future pregnancies.
  • Failing to realize that even if a long period of time passes between a protected activity and an adverse action, that action can be considered retaliation.

In addition to increasing legal risks, "keeping bad managers around can also have hidden costs and dangers by way of high turnover, absenteeism and high health care expenses," Bowman cautions.

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