by Business Management Daily
One small misstep could cost the company hundreds, thousands and even millions of dollars.
#1: Advertisements, Interviews and Offer Letters
Mistake: improper language in job advertisements. Too many employers still use inappropriate terms — such as "girl," "boy" or "young" — in their job advertisements. This is particularly true when managers, rather than HR, write the ads.
Mistake: unlawful interview inquiries. Too many hiring managers ask about personal and/or protected characteristics during job interviews, which sets the employer up for a discrimination lawsuit if the applicant is not hired.
Mistake: inaccurate description of the job. Some hiring managers work so hard to get top-notch recruits in the door that they fail to be realistic with their description of the job. The unhappy employee will leave, and it will have been a shameful waste of the employer's time and money.
Mistake: inadvertent creation of contractual promises. Too many employers include language in their job offer letters that inadvertently creates an employment contract. For instance, mentioning a yearly salary implies a yearly contract.
#2: Wage and Hour Issues
Mistake: misclassification of workers. Exempt vs. non-exempt status: Finding and correcting these mistakes are an Obama administration priority. While there are many factors to consider, you're basically basing your determination on the employee's level of responsibility and/or training and a salary test.
#3: Privacy Assumptions and Violations
Mistake: permitting an expectation of electronic privacy. Too many employers fail to advise employees to expect no privacy on their computers. If you asked employees, "Do you think the stuff you put into that computer is private?" you might get some interesting answers.
Mistake: improper electronic monitoring. Some states have statutes that require employers to give employees notice if they are being monitored electronically.
Mistake: inadvertently revealing private employee information. Management possesses a great deal of sensitive information about individual employees. It is your duty to keep that information confidential.
#4: Training and Performance
Mistake: failure to train supervisors. When supervisors are not trained, they're the ones who get you into trouble. They may say rude, racist or sexist things, or be unintentionally discriminatory, and because they are in a supervisory position, the entire company is on the hook.
Mistake: misleading performance evaluations. If you try to discipline an employee for a performance/behavior problem that was never noted on their evaluation, your hands may be tied.
#5: Sloppy Terminations
Mistake: sloppy finish. Regardless of whether a termination is voluntary or involuntary, always allow the employee to leave with dignity and ensure they sign exit paperwork.
#6: Record-Keeping/I-9 Issues
Mistake: failure to document past practices. Courts love to know not only whether the treatment of an employee was against the law or company policy, but whether it was in line with past practices.
Mistake: failure to comply with Form I-9 requirements. Failure to complete the I-9 form properly and failure to keep the form in a separate file are common mistakes employers make.
#7: Breakdowns in Communication
Mistake: failure to keep employees in the loop. Forgetting to notify employees about policy/procedure changes, outcomes of investigations/discipline issues or unsatisfactory behavior or work quality can be a costly slip-up.
Mistake: failure to explore accommodations. "Accommodation" can be defined as "a determination in favor of the employee." Employers should explore accommodation options when an employee: has a disability, is pregnant, is called to active military duty or has a family member called to active military duty, or wants to engage in a religious observance/practice.
#9: Non-Compete Agreements
Mistake: unreasonable scope. Obviously, an agreement prohibiting an employee from working at any position in the same general industry forever and ever isn't going to hold water.