Thursday, September 11, 2014

More of the Top Ten Employment Practices to Avoid Liability

This week, we have been posting ten tips to help employers avoid liability in employment litigation. Any employee or candidate for employment can file a claim; employers can’t stop that. What employers can do is “employ defensively” so that they can successfully defend claims and avoid liability. Here are more of our tips.

7.  Know Your FMLA Rights

Certainly employees have rights under FMLA. So do employers. Below are important employer rights as well:

a.  Initially, determine if your agency or company is covered by FMLA. We have previously talked about a common misconception that all government entities must provide FMLA leave, regardless of size. In fact, any employer, private or public, must only provide FMLA leave to qualifying employees only if the employer employs 50 or more employees in a 75 mile radius.

b.  Employers have the right to inquire of an employee’s health care provider to clarify relevant health care information.

c.  An employee who qualifies for intermittent FMLA does not get a free pass to be absent and not every absence is FMLA protected. Only those absences which are related to the employee’s FMLA eligibility are considered FMLA leave.

d.  Employers can require an employee who returns from FMLA leave to undergo a medical evaluation.

8.  Train Supervisors and Staff Periodically

The best policies in the world won’t help an employer if supervisors and managers don’t know how to implement them. Worse yet is a workplace where supervisors and managers apply policies differently.  Many supervisors won’t even ask for advice because their goal is often to get the job done in the department even if that means working around employee issues. A training program that occurs on a regular basis is invaluable. Employers often find that supervisors and managers aren’t recognizing issues such as FMLA qualifying events, substance abuse issues, chronic employee misconduct or a misinterpretation of policies or employee rights. On a smaller scale, employers should review policies with staff as well. Some employees labor under misconceptions about policies and a greater understanding of the reason and effect of policies in the workplace can reduce claims of unlawful practices.

Tomorrow we will finish our top ten list of practices.