CHASE LAW NAVIGATOR

imageedit_1_3140372419.png

EMPLOYMENT ISSUES

Businesses with employees need to follow extensive legal guidelines or risk liability. Read the information below to learn more about the various issues surrounding employees.

DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT

How can I prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace by my employees?


The best way to prevent discrimination and harassment is to TRAIN your employees on what the laws say, and what the consequences of breaking those laws. Make it clear that your business does not allow discrimination and harassment, and give employees plenty of examples and reminders. The EEOC (US Equal Opportunity Employment Commission) provides tips to help businesses train their staff: https://www.eeoc.gov/employers/small-business/employee-training-tips




How can I protect my business from lawsuits for discrimination and harassment?


A business is responsible for the acts of its employees, generally speaking, especially where the business does not act on known infractions. That said, it is best not to avoid or brush off concerns that arise with regard to instances of discrimination and harassment. A business owner may need to discipline or terminate employees engaged in discriminatory activities. On the other hand, terminating victims is generally not a good idea (retaliation). Another way to protect your business in the event of an employment discrimination or harassment claim is to insure your business against such claims. EPLI (Employment Practices Liability Insurance) is a type of insurance that can provide legal counsel in the event of a lawsuit. Here are some resources that explain the process an employee will go through when submitting a claim: https://www.worker.gov/concerns/protection-against-retaliation/
https://www.doi.gov/employees/anti-harassment/definitions
https://www.ftc.gov/site-information/no-fear-act/protections-against-discrimination




As a business with employees, what am I required to do with regard to complying with regulations and/or prevent discrimination and harassment?


If you have employees, you have at least some federal legal obligations with regard to all kinds of employment laws. The more employees you have, the greater your responsibility becomes. (see link below) State and/or local employment discrimination laws may also apply to your business. State and local government websites may have information about these laws. Federal: https://www.eeoc.gov/employers/small-business/small-business-requirements
KY: https://kchr.ky.gov/Pages/index.aspx
OH: https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/FAQ/Civil-rights-FAQs





EMPLOYEE BENEFIT

What are the rules and requirements for employment contracts?


For small businesses employment contracts may or may not be unnecessary. Verbal agreements or offer letters are likely sufficient. Employee contracts are legally binding arrangements between employers and employees, and the law does not require small businesses to make legal promises to their employees. Additionally, employers should be careful, as not all employment contracts are written, and under certain circumstances, implied employment contracts may be recognized. Learn more here: https://webapps.dol.gov/elaws/faq/esa/flsa/007.htm?_ga=2.168188450.2038638127.1603733543-2088622634.1603733543




What are the rules and requirements surrounding non-compete agreements?


Non-compete agreements may or may not be enforced, depending on your state's stand on the matter. Generally, reasonable non-compete provisions will be upheld, but you will need to know your state's specific laws.
Learn more:
https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/audio-video/video/non-competes-workplace-workshop-part-1
https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/economic-policy/Documents/UST%20Non-competes%20Report.pdf




Are employment contracts a good idea for businesses and how are they enforced?


Employment contracts are enforced by contract law, generally. Contract law is a matter of state law. If a business wants to get out of an employment contract, it is best to talk to an attorney, as breaching an employment contract can cause litigation. The SEC provides a form non-compete agreement: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1075531/000107553113000016/exhibit991non-competeagree.htm





EMPLOYEE VS. INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR

Am I obligated to take steps to ensure my employees act safely?


Generally, as an employer, a safe workplace is something an employer must provide. However, some industries have specific safety requirements. Each industry is going to have specific regulations. A web search or an attorney can help set up a system for making sure the business’s legal duty of providing a safe workplace is satisfied.




How does the safety of my workplace relate to workers’ compensation claims?


An unsafe workplace can cause a worker’s compensation judgement to be inflated as a penalty. Know your state law. KY: https://labor.ky.gov/Documents/An%20Overview%20of%20Kentucky%20Workers%20Compensation%20Law.pdf OH: https://info.bwc.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/bwc/for-employers/workers-compensation-overview/understanding-workers-compensation





EMPLOYMENT CONTRACTS

What are the rules and requirements for employment contracts?


For small businesses employment contracts may or may not be unnecessary. Verbal agreements or offer letters are likely sufficient. Employee contracts are legally binding arrangements between employers and employees, and the law does not require small businesses to make legal promises to their employees. Additionally, employers should be careful, as not all employment contracts are written, and under certain circumstances, implied employment contracts may be recognized. Learn more here: https://webapps.dol.gov/elaws/faq/esa/flsa/007.htm?_ga=2.168188450.2038638127.1603733543-2088622634.1603733543




What are the rules and requirements surrounding non-compete agreements?


Non-compete agreements may or may not be enforced, depending on your state's stand on the matter. Generally, reasonable non-compete provisions will be upheld, but you will need to know your state's specific laws.
Learn more:
https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/audio-video/video/non-competes-workplace-workshop-part-1
https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/economic-policy/Documents/UST%20Non-competes%20Report.pdf




Are employment contracts a good idea for businesses and how are they enforced?


Employment contracts are enforced by contract law, generally. Contract law is a matter of state law. If a business wants to get out of an employment contract, it is best to talk to an attorney, as breaching an employment contract can cause litigation. The SEC provides a form non-compete agreement: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1075531/000107553113000016/exhibit991non-competeagree.htm





LABOR LAWS

How can I prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace by my employees?


The best way to prevent discrimination and harassment is to TRAIN your employees on what the laws say, and what the consequences of breaking those laws. Make it clear that your business does not allow discrimination and harassment, and give employees plenty of examples and reminders. The EEOC (US Equal Opportunity Employment Commission) provides tips to help businesses train their staff: https://www.eeoc.gov/employers/small-business/employee-training-tips




How can I protect my business from lawsuits for discrimination and harassment?


A business is responsible for the acts of its employees, generally speaking, especially where the business does not act on known infractions. That said, it is best not to avoid or brush off concerns that arise with regard to instances of discrimination and harassment. A business owner may need to discipline or terminate employees engaged in discriminatory activities. On the other hand, terminating victims is generally not a good idea (retaliation). Another way to protect your business in the event of an employment discrimination or harassment claim is to insure your business against such claims. EPLI (Employment Practices Liability Insurance) is a type of insurance that can provide legal counsel in the event of a lawsuit. Here are some resources that explain the process an employee will go through when submitting a claim: https://www.worker.gov/concerns/protection-against-retaliation/
https://www.doi.gov/employees/anti-harassment/definitions
https://www.ftc.gov/site-information/no-fear-act/protections-against-discrimination




As a business with employees, what am I required to do with regard to complying with regulations and/or prevent discrimination and harassment?


If you have employees, you have at least some federal legal obligations with regard to all kinds of employment laws. The more employees you have, the greater your responsibility becomes. (see link below) State and/or local employment discrimination laws may also apply to your business. State and local government websites may have information about these laws. Federal: https://www.eeoc.gov/employers/small-business/small-business-requirements
KY: https://kchr.ky.gov/Pages/index.aspx
OH: https://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/FAQ/Civil-rights-FAQs





WORKER SAFETY

Am I obligated to take steps to ensure my employees act safely?


Generally, as an employer, a safe workplace is something an employer must provide. However, some industries have specific safety requirements. Each industry is going to have specific regulations. A web search or an attorney can help set up a system for making sure the business’s legal duty of providing a safe workplace is satisfied.




How does the safety of my workplace relate to workers’ compensation claims?


An unsafe workplace can cause a worker’s compensation judgement to be inflated as a penalty. Know your state law. KY: https://labor.ky.gov/Documents/An%20Overview%20of%20Kentucky%20Workers%20Compensation%20Law.pdf OH: https://info.bwc.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/bwc/for-employers/workers-compensation-overview/understanding-workers-compensation