Mitigating the Risk of Employment Practices Suits at the Onset
Over the last couple of years, we have been discussing in our blog the complex landscape of employment practices and the rise in claims. Employment practices claims typically involve allegations of racial and gender discrimination, sexual harassment, unfair pay, breach of contract, and wrongful termination. While it’s impossible in a fluid environment such as the workplace to avoid employee claims, there are steps you can take as an organization to help mitigate your risks including when hiring employees. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the issues you should implement, and in future blogs we will continue to provide you with information to help you with employment practices issues.
Begin with the hiring process: When interviewing applicants, be sure to design the application and interview process so that applicants are asked only legitimately job-related questions. Avoid even the appearance of unlawful discrimination by avoiding questions that may identify an applicant’s age, sex, disability, and membership in a minority group, or other protected status under applicable laws. The best way to avoid liability is to consider the purpose of each inquiry and then focus the inquiry to meet that purpose.
Be sure to update job descriptions: Job descriptions are designed to provide applicants with a clear understanding of the nature of the position and its requirements. They establish requirements for the job that can be used to objectively screen applicants and avoid discrimination charges. Your job descriptions should emphasize objective requirements such as job-related education/licensure, job-related work experience, and demonstrated ability to perform particular aspects of the job.
Establish a company policy with regard to the acceptance and retention of applications. By so doing you can help to minimize your exposure to failure-to-hire claims. A sound, well- communicated policy will also help prevent wasted managerial time. The policy should at minimum require applications to be retained for one year from the date of receipt or date of the employment decision, whichever is later, to comply with record-keeping requirements imposed by theEEOC.
Ensure that all applicants complete an application form. This allows your managers to collect necessary, comparable information on all candidates and allows your HR department to accurately track applicant flow. By reviewing an organization’s applicant flow, you can verify its fulfillment of equal employment opportunity (EEO) obligations and conduct internal analysis of recruiting strategies. Written applications also give employers representations of an applicant’s experience and qualifications. An applicant’s false information, later discovered, may be a basis for dismissal and may limit damages in the event of litigation.
In the event of a lawsuit, be sure to have Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI). At Axis, we provide coverage for all types of businesses. Our product is designed to cover legal fees, settlements and damage awards that result from these types of EPLI claims. Give us a call to discuss your specific needs at (877) 787-5258.