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Top 3 Legal Pitfalls in Human Resources

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Top 3 Legal Pitfalls in Human Resources

  1. 1. Top 3 Legal Pitfalls in Human Resources Lessons from the trenches . . . Robert C. Jackson, Esq. HSMcLaw.com
  2. 2. Who’s Rob and Why Should I Care? HSMcLaw.com
  3. 3. We Live in a Challenging Business Environment • Economic Challenges • More Demanding Employees . . . Ms and Nets • New Technologies Reshaping World • Increased Regulation and Legislation • Business, in general, is Under Attack HSMcLaw.com
  4. 4. What Can You Do? • Look at What You CAN Control • Take Advantage Where You Can • Technology, Economy, Good Policies and Rules HSMcLaw.com
  5. 5. Top 3 Legal Pitfalls of HR HSMcLaw.com • More than 3, but these are the biggest p roblems I see TODAY • Often no RIGHT answers • Personality • Workplace culture • Economics • Questions at any time
  6. 6. HSMcLaw.com Points to Remember • One Size Does NOT fit ALL • Business Size Matters • Perception is Reality • Make Omelets, Must Break Eggs
  7. 7. HSMcLaw.com Legal Pitfall No.1 EMAIL
  8. 8. EMAIL can be Very Dangerous Never Forgets, Always there. They WILL find it. Can turn a good case bad in an instant Often re-interpreted YEARS after the event HSMcLaw.com
  9. 9. EMAIL can be Very Dangerous Actual Case Examples . . . . HSMcLaw.com
  10. 10. EMAIL can be Very Dangerous So, . . . what do you do about it? HSMcLaw.com
  11. 11. Email can be Very Dangerous • Think before you type • Keep it Job-related • Avoid specifics, speak generically • PICK UP THE PHONE HSMcLaw.com
  12. 12. HSMcLaw.com Legal Pitfall No.2 COMPLAINTS
  13. 13. How You Handle Complaints is Important Why? The Big 3 Retaliation Workplace Environment Whistleblowers HSMcLaw.com
  14. 14. How You Handle Complaints is Important Especially Important when complaint involves: • Race, Sex, Religion, National Origin, etc . . . • Disability or medical conditions • Age • Illegal Activities • Workers Comp • Workplace Conditions • PRIOR COMPLAINTS HSMcLaw.com
  15. 15. How You Handle Complaints is Important Recommend deal with all complaints similarly: • TAKE THEM SERIOUSLY • Focus Complaint (in writing preferred) • Investigate and Document • Conclude and Follow Up with Complaintant • Always Leave door open • But . . . put burden on Complainer HSMcLaw.com
  16. 16. How You Handle Complaints is Important Dealing with Complaints is difficult: Most Employees believe you will not deal with them Prove them wrong. Act Professional Treat employee with respect. DO NOT RETALIATE! Tell them not tolerated. And watch for it. HSMcLaw.com
  17. 17. HSMcLaw.com Legal Pitfall No.3 TERMINATIONS
  18. 18. Terminations can be Dangerous Why? Liability Equivalent to a car accident Locks in damages “Tangible employment action” Emotional event for all = Irrational Decisions HSMcLaw.com
  19. 19. Terminations can be Dangerous So, . . . How should you handle? HSMcLaw.com
  20. 20. Terminations can be Dangerous Convince Employees to Fire Themselves P.S. – This is a really good strategy (but can be hard – and not as good as it used to be) HSMcLaw.com
  21. 21. Convince Employees to Fire Themselves • Hold employee accountable • “You are not the boss of me!” • Legally: Master-servant relationship • Job-related • Keep up pressure • Document, Document, Document HSMcLaw.com
  22. 22. Convince Employees to Fire Themselves RESULTS: Employee will Improve – better workplace OR Employee will get frustrated – Quit HSMcLaw.com
  23. 23. Convince Employees to Fire Themselves Benefits of Employee Quitting: • Harder (not impossible) to Sue • No Unemployment (usually) • Their decision, not yours (face saving) • Gives them time – see handwriting on wall HSMcLaw.com
  24. 24. Terminations can be Dangerous Other Strategies: • Negotiated Separation (severance) • Instant Removal (not recommended but necessary at times) • Any kind of turmoil – get them out of there (pay 2 wks) • Actual practice is company and industry culture specific HSMcLaw.com
  25. 25. Terminations can be Dangerous Other Strategies: • Be clear about what you are doing and why you are doing it • Don’t always need a reason • but don’t be afraid to give one, if documentation is solid • Remember- EMOTIONAL event . . . unless prepared for it. HSMcLaw.com
  26. 26. Top 3 Legal Pitfalls of HR TODAY HSMcLaw.com 1. EMAIL 2. COMPLAINTS 3. TERMINATIONS
  27. 27. Wrap Up Questions? www.HSMcLaw.com HSMcLaw.com

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