Could Your Company Defend Itself in an Age Discrimination Lawsuit?

Chances are good that some of your company’s workforce is aging, which is in line with the demographics ooffice-659689_1280f the United States. But in general, you cannot treat those employees any differently from the way you treat your younger workers. Otherwise, you may wind up in court.

Individuals over the age of 40 fall into a protected class created by the federal Age Discrimination Employment Act (ADEA). If your business has more than 20 employees, the ADEA provides protection from employment discrimination based on age. It also applies to state and local governments, employment agencies and labor organizations. The ADEA specifically covers hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments and training.

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Plan Ahead for Changes to Overtime Pay Rules

1428638_61478545It’s been about six months since the Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) Wage and Hour Division issued its proposed updated on overtime rules. Specifically, the agency has suggested revisions to the definition of which employees are exempt from overtime pay requirements and which are not (referred to as the “white collar exemption”).

the proposal elicited 264,093 responses during the two-month comment period. There’s no way to know how much, if any, of this feedback will find its way into the final rules, which should go into effect sometime next year. So it’s prudent to plan ahead.

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Dilemma: How Long to Hold a Job Open

Occasionally, employees want or need to be away from work after they question-685060_1280have used up all their accrued vacation, paid sick leave, and paid personal time off. For example, an employee may be out collecting Workers’ Compensation benefits for months, even a year or more. So, you need to let employees know the circumstances under which they may take unpaid leaves, how long you may hold a job open, and when employment terminates. Here’s an example of a dilemma an employer might face.

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Enforcing Work Break Time Limits

clock-594178_1280It can start out as a minor, even overlooked, irritation for managers and supervisors: Employees stretching out work breaks by one or two or three minutes. It becomes a minor headache when they stretch out 10-minute work breaks to 15 minutes. Then it becomes a major headache for managers and supervisors when the 10 minute break becomes 15 minutes or longer.

When employees consistently stretch out the length of work breaks, it’s time for employers to look at their work break policy.

Does your work break policy address who is eligible to take work breaks? When are work breaks scheduled? Where do employees take their breaks? How much time do they have for taking breaks? What discipline do you use for abuse of work breaks? Continue reading

Resolve Employee Complaints Through Investigation

control-427510_1280Employee complaints that allege mistreatment at work have to be taken seriously. Even if you doubt the legitimacy of a complaint, you’ll put your company in peril if you fail to delve into what really happened. However, a poorly executed investigation could do more harm than good and potentially sink you in legal hot water.

Under federal law, you’re required to investigate any complaints involving harassment, discrimination, retaliation or safety issues. But even when a complaint seems small enough that employees should be able to work it out themselves – such as loud music blaring from a cubicle – don’t ignore it. The matter may not rise to the level of bringing in upper management, but employees need to know you take their concerns seriously. Continue reading