Any business that has employees needs to have properly implemented employment practices to minimize the risk of litigation arising from your hiring and management activities. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is continuing an aggressive policy of ligation against employers they view as engaging in any form of workplace harassment and private suits by employees remain a constant risk.
For North Dakota employers, the risk is somewhat lower than in states that provide additional regulations governing anti-discrimination and fair employment practice lawsuits at the state level.
Nonetheless, North Dakota employers need to be aware of the areas of focus from the EEOC and work to ensure that they comply with the relevant regulations.
It may seem unnecessarily costly to bring an attorney in to review your hiring procedures, employment policies, handbooks, manuals and examine your disciplinary process when you are not facing litigation.
However, it is far less expensive than the cost of much employment litigation, which could carry significant settlement costs and possible penalties for a labor law violation.
Having a process to deal with employee requests for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act, can save time and ensure that employees feel they are being treated fairly and that decisions are not arbitrary and capricious.
Another area of concern is independent contractor relationships. If you use independent contractors, check with an attorney to ensure that they are genuine contractors and not misclassified employees. The Department of Labor is making an aggressive move to enforce the Fair Labor Standards Act and a violation could become very expensive.
You could be penalized by the DOL and required to pay overtime and payroll taxes, in addition to the IRS penalties for that delinquency.
Discussing these issues with your attorney and having an annual review of your policies and process can save you a great deal of time and money.
Source: “Employee Practices Lawsuits Continue to Increase,” Denise Johnson, November 17, 2015