This week, the California Chamber of Commerce released a video report highlighting three new laws impacting employers that go into effect in 2018. They include:
- a law requiring small employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave;
- a law restricting the types of salary questions employers can ask applicants;
- and a law restricting employers’ abilities to conduct background checks or inquire about prior convictions for potential new employees.
(Source & additional information on these new laws: CalChamber)
California joins Delaware, Massachusetts, Oregon, and several cities (including San Francisco) in passing laws preventing employers from asking prospective workers for their salary history. If asked, companies must also provide a pay range for the job in question. The new law, which comes into effect January 1, aims to curb the gender pay gap by keeping low salaries from following women through their careers.
Saw this sign driving around L.A. yesterday. Employers beware. Your employees are exposed to this type of marketing from attorneys. First and foremost, treat your employees with the respect they deserve. Build a strong culture of trust and put your employees first. However, what if you do your best but still get a bad seed filing a groundless wrongful termination or discrimination claim against you? Do you have the money and resources to defend it?
They say nationally, the cost of settling an Employment Practices Liability #EPL claim out of court averages $75,000, and the average jury award hits $217,000 if you go to court and lose. In CA, I’m sure it’s higher. Are you prepared? #EmploymentPracticesLiability
One of the most challenging aspects of owning a small business (particularly in California) is knowing and following legal requirements regarding hiring, managing, and sometimes terminating employees. It seems like there are new laws drafted daily. How can one possibly stay on top of it all???
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently launched a Small Business Resource Center designed to assist small business owners in their compliance with employment laws they, the EEOC, enforce.
This new dedicated EEOC Resource Center contains a general overview of small business obligations including the posting and record-keeping requirements to assist in staying compliant with the myriad of nondiscriminatory laws.
The website also has available FAQs, tips, fact sheets and videos, as well as no-cost outreach programs. This is a good resource to keep in mind when you need to make sure how you are treating employees is legal.
I wouldn’t recommend that you try to do it all on your own though. Use a professional Human Resources consultant or attorney when necessary when dealing with sensitive matters surrounding the employment process.
Need help finding a reputable Human Resources consultant or attorney to help with your business? Contact me today. I have relationships with some great ones who can help you out.
I will preface this by saying that I am not a Human Resources professional nor an attorney. Don’t take this as the end all/ be all when it comes to your employee relations. Although I am not and attorney or certified HR professional, I do help businesses with their risk management and insurance needs and Employment Practices Liability Insurance is one of those areas. Here in Southern California, Employment Practices Liability insurance claims happen a LOT more than general liability, professional liability (E&O) or any other areas of liability for that matter. I don’t have the statistical data, but working day-in and day-out with clients, I do see Employment Practices Liability claims a whole hell of a lot more than most other lines of insurance. And remember, Employment Practices Liability claims are NOT covered by a General Liability insurance policy or Workers’ Compensation.
With that being said, here are 10 EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) Tips for Small Businesses taken directly from the EEOC. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1964 to eradicate discrimination in employment. The Commission enforces various statutes that prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, religion, retaliation, age, and disability or protected veteran status.
The EEOC has the authority to investigate charges of discrimination filed against employers who have a statutory minimum number of employees. HR can help avoid costly penalties by following the tips published by the EEOC.
- Look at the facts, not the faces. Race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation or gender identity), national origin, disability, age (40 or older) or genetic information (including family medical history) should not be a factor when you hire, fire, promote, pay, train, discipline or make other work-related decisions.
- Provide reasonable accommodations to applicants or employees who need them for medical or religious reasons, if required by law*.
- Develop a strong anti-discrimination policy before discrimination becomes a problem.
- Ensure that employees understand their rights and responsibilities at work.
- Be alert to potential harassment or discrimination. Stop, address and prevent harassment and discrimination.
- Ensure that employees are not punished for reporting discrimination, participating in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit, or opposing discrimination.
- Post an EEO poster at your business.
- Keep employment records as required by law.
- File an EEO-1 Report if you have 100 or more employees. Some federal contractors with at least 50 employees must also file this report.
- Contact the EEOC to request assistance, information or training.
* Federal, state and local laws may prohibit additional types of discrimination and/or require you to provide reasonable accommodations for other reasons. Federal, state and local government websites may have additional information about these laws.
Retaliation charges increased by nearly 5% in 2015 and continue to be the leading concern raised by workers across the country. Disability charges increased by 6% from last year and are the third largest category of charges filed.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released breakdowns of the 89,385 charges of workplace discrimination that the agency received in fiscal year 2015.
EEOC said it resolved 92,641 charges in fiscal year 2015, and secured more than $525 million for victims of discrimination in private sector and state and local government workplaces through voluntary resolutions and litigation.
The year-end data shows that retaliation again was the most frequently filed charge of discrimination, with 39,757 charges, making up 45 percent of all private sector charges filed with EEOC. The fiscal year ran from Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015. The agency is currently seeking public input on its proposed update of enforcement guidance addressing retaliation and related issues as part of its commitment to inform the public about the EEOC’s interpretation of the law and promote voluntary compliance.
Top 10 Charges
The charge numbers show the following breakdowns by bases alleged:
- Retaliation: 39,757 (44.5% of all charges filed)
- Race: 31,027 (34.7%)
- Disability: 26,968 (30.2%)
- Sex: 26,396 (29.5%)
- Age: 20,144 (22.5%)
- National Origin: 9,438 (10.6%)
- Religion: 3,502 (3.9%)
- Color: 2,833 (3.2%)
- Equal Pay Act: 973 (1.1%)
- Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act: 257 (0.3%)
The percentages add up to more than 100 because some charges allege multiple bases.
Charges raising harassment allegations made up nearly 28,000 charges, or 31%. Employees claimed harassment in charges based on race, age, disability, religion, national origin and sex, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
The agency filed 142 merits lawsuits last year, up from 133 the previous year. The majority of the lawsuits filed alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, followed by suits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This included 100 individual lawsuits and 42 lawsuits involving multiple victims of discriminatory policies. EEOC lawyers resolved 155 lawsuits alleging discrimination.
Once way to help deal with Employment Practices claims is to purchase Employment Practices Liability (EPL) Insurance. EPL Covers wrongful acts arising from the employment process. The most frequent types of claims covered under EPL insurance include wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation. In addition, the policies cover claims from a variety of other types of inappropriate workplace conduct, including (but not limited to) defamation, invasion of privacy, failure to promote, deprivation of a career opportunity and negligent evaluation. The policy covers directors and officers, management personnel and employees. These types of claims are not covered under a general liability or workers’ compensation insurance policy.
Sources: EEOC; Insurance Journal
A former employee of a Safeway store in Oregon has filed a lawsuit against the grocery store chain saying she was forced to quit because a customer repeatedly stared at her breasts and made vulgar comments.
The Oregonian reported that 44-year-old Daphne Lannan says in a lawsuit filed last week in Multnomah County Circuit Court that she asked managers at the Lebanon Safeway to stop the customer but they did not.
According to the lawsuit, Lannan says a male customer began to comment about the size of her breasts, saying he wanted to touch them. Lannan’s attorney says the law allows employees to sue their employers for sexual harassment by non-employees.
The Takeaway: As an employer, you would need to have an Employment Practices Liability (EPL) Insurance policy to defend a claim of this sort. This isn’t covered by a workers’ compensation insurance policy or general liability policy. EPL provides protection for an employer against claims made by employees, former employees, or potential employees. It covers discrimination (age, sex, race, disability, etc.), wrongful termination of employment, sexual harassment, and other employment-related allegations.
Additional Tip: To avoid gaps in coverage, make sure Third-Party coverage is offered and included by the carrier on your policy. This covers you if a customer or a third-party sues you for discrimination, etc., not just employees. For more information visit: Third-Party Employment Practices Liability Insurance or contact me with questions.
For more on the story: OregonLive.com