How Managers Make Lawsuits
Being a manager is a tough job for many reasons, but one of those reasons is the propensity to create legal disasters. Lawmakers have created many laws to protect employees, and managers are charged with running the business within the confines of those laws.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits hiring managers or business owners from discriminating when hiring people or making other personnel decisions. Legally, businesses with 15 or more employees have to abide by this law or face consequences. They cannot discriminate based on race, sex, color, religion, or national origin. This means that decisions are based on merit rather than characteristics that are outside the control of the employee. Employers should handle promotions and raises fairly, and they should treat all employees equally.
Discrimination in Title VII includes sexual harassment and any harassment that occurs because of a person’s membership to one of the protected classes such as sex or race. It is not only to protect people from unfair business practices, but it is meant to protect people from sexism, racism, and similar injustices.
Examples of Title VII Violations
Some examples of Title VII violations are more obvious than others. Sexual and racial harassment, for example, can be quite overt. However, hiring practices can be seemingly accidental. In areas where there is a predominance of one race, hiring managers must provide opportunities to minorities. Companies have violated Title VII by having a work environment where some employees were overtly racist. They have also violated the act by offering more hours to employees of a certain race. There are many examples of Title VII violations, and there will likely be novel examples in the future.
The Courts and Title VII Violations
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission handles discrimination charges, and they may issue a Notice of Right to Sue. This gives you the opportunity to file a civil lawsuit against the company.
In court, you must prove that you belong to a protected class. This is the easiest part of the case. Then, you must prove that your employer was aware of your protected class. Then, you must prove the discriminatory act. It can be difficult to prove that the act was discriminatory unless it was blatant. That is why it is important to hire a lawyer to help you meet the burden of proof.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act prevents managers from discriminating against employees who are 40 or older. Managers sometimes discriminate against these individuals because they may be close to retirement and therefore a poor training investment. It also prevents older employees from being fired or laid off because of a want to hire new individuals. The law states that these age discriminations are arbitrary, as there is no set age where a person must stop working. In modern times, many older individuals have continued to work well past the standard age of retirement.
In addition to retaining their jobs, managers are not allowed to prohibit people from advancing due to age. That promotion which may seem suited for the young shining star in the company is no less suited for the older individual with similar performance. Like Title VII, all employees are judged based on merit.
Example of ADEA Violation Case
According to an AARP article, a restaurant had interviewed a 59-year-old man over the telephone and called him back for an in-person interview. When he arrived, they seemed uninterested. They later sent him a letter in the mail stating they did not choose him because they were looking for an employee that would be with them for a long time and not resign any time soon.
Most cases are difficult to prove when it comes to the ADEA law because you have to prove that a company made a judgement based on age. In this case, the letter was the only proof needed. This is a great example of a manager making a lawsuit. The courts would not have sided with the plaintiff without it.
Every family has the potential to have an emergency, whether it is good or bad. During this time, they need to be there for each other AND not risk their employment prospects. That is why there is the Family and Medical Leave Act.
The FMLA covers 12 weeks a year in which an employee may be absent for family emergencies. Qualifying emergencies include:
- Birth of a child
- Placement of foster or adoptive child
- Care for a spouse who is suffering health condition
- Serious health condition impairing employee’s ability to perform job duties
- Conditions caused by immediate family members on active duty. It also covers 26 weeks for the serious injury or care of an active duty member.
This is not paid leave, but it is job protection. Your job is secure as long as you are able to return following the 12 weeks. This also serves as America’s maternity leave. While some companies offer paid maternity leave, the law does not require it in FMLA regulations.
Examples of FMLA Violation Cases
Examples of FMLA violation cases are often complicated. An employee may deny a person medical leave because he or she took a vacation while his or her doctor would not allow return to work for regular work duties. This does not, in itself, violate FMLA and give the employer the right to terminate employment. Another example may be an employer firing an employee after being approved for FMLA unless it can be proven that it would have happened anyway, and other employees were affected.
Managers make the mistake of making assumptions in many FMLA cases. Just because a person goes on vacation does not mean they are not limiting themselves, especially if the doctor will not release him or her. Similarly, creative ways to terminate employment once FMLA is approved must happen in a manner that is clearly related to business decisions and not retribution against the employee. The details of FMLA can get very complicated and cover vast subjects.
The Fair Labor Standards Act is where laws exist such as minimum wage and overtime regulations. It also covers the age at which a person may work and how much or where they can work before reaching adulthood. Other regulations concerning the FLSA is that guidelines regarding it must be posted. In other words, employees should be fully aware of their rights.
There are many examples of FLSA violations that are very logical violations. One that comes up often is unpaid overtime. Employers may have their employees clock out, but they may still be working on their phones and at home without pay. They are supposed to pay employees even if they did not authorize overtime. Employers can then counsel and discipline the employee, but they must pay the employee first.
How Managers Avoid Lawsuits
The best way for managers to avoid lawsuits is by becoming familiar with employee rights. It is easy to illegally remove these rights even when well-intentioned. The challenge of looking out for the business’s and the employee’s best interests at the same time is not a small one. The first step in preventing violations is becoming aware of employee rights, and this will help the organization because they will not have a lawsuit.