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Human Resources Practices and the Law

Human resources practices vary globally because each country has its own unique employment laws. When comparing the United States to other countries, which of course have different rules and regulations, it is interesting to see how management styles vary as well. When choosing to obtain an HR certification, you must be aware of the employment laws for the country in which you plan to work in because they will ultimately become the of rulebook for your entire career.

Laws are present in every country in the United States, there are several levels: federal, state, and local employment laws. Most laws are supervised by government agencies that carry two main responsibilities. First, they must make sure that the laws are deemed suitable and recognized by all so that they are obeyed. Second, the agencies work to make sure that the laws are obeyed by instituting official parameters or procedures. Keep in mind that the laws are put into place to protect employees against unfair treatment. For instance, there are laws that are put in place to prohibit discrimination. Race, sex, and national origin are examples of “protected classes” which, by law, are groupings that cannot be discriminated or biased against in the workplace. In the United States, employees are free from illegal discrimination based upon a protected class, not because they are entitled to their jobs. This is why issues can arise when employees have been discriminated against (and subsequently fired) as opposed to being “unfairly” let go. It is important to note the difference between unfair and illegal actions.

Sometimes, employees who have been fired will claim what is called “false reasoning” for their dismissal and bring their former employer to court. There are two kinds of court cases based on interpretation of the law in question: federal and common law. Discrimination of sex is an example of a federal law case. Although there is nothing specifically written in the law about sexual harassment, courts have included it in the law against sex discrimination. However, a company or employee can go to the courts and challenge the interpretation of the wording of a law and determinations. In human resources practices, one must be very careful with the specifics of a law and be sure to follow them before making crucial decisions when it comes to the workplace.

Common law court cases are the second type and occur either when someone affirms an implied agreement with their employer or the employer has done something awfully wrong to the employee. It is the court’s job to decide whether or not there is a legal theory to support an employee’s argument. An example of court theories include terms such as, “wrongful discharge,” “implied contract,” “invasion of privacy,” and “defamation.” These terms exist in state and local legal systems. Many states have their own recognized theories and interpretations of what those theories mean. Most of the time, these terms are used to describe a situation where an employee has indeed been fired for unreasonable and unlawful reasons. Comparably, some Canadian courts require that an employee must have reasonable notice prior to their firing.

Human Resources & Law FAQS

1. In the summary judgment, unlike in the motion to dismiss, the allegations in the complaint are not accepted as true. Instead, the movant relies on his/her own evidence and the lack of evidence by the non-moving party. In other words, a motion to dismiss is based on some procedural matter and is often fixable. On the other hand, a motion for summary judgment is a substantive ruling and has the same legal effect as if a trial had occurred.

2. If it is a common practice of uniformed employees at Factory X to decorate their uniforms with pins and buttons, such as Mets insignia and angel pins. Then, it would be illegal (unfair labor practice) under the NLRA for the disciplining of employees wearing union buttons during the Union campaign because rules adopted (especially, for the sole purpose of discriminating against union activism) immediately after a campaign has begun may have the appearance of being promulgated for an unlawful purpose. Moreover, ‘special circumstances’ allowing restriction for specific reasons as the need for safety; production, or other legitimate business purpose is moot since it is common practice for the employees to decorate their uniforms with other (non-union) pins and buttons.

3. The creation of a division in the NLRB, by the Taft-Hartley Act, so that the people prosecuting unfair labor practices were not the same people making the final determination represents, in my opinion, a negative change for two reasons. First, the Taft-Hartley Act was motivated by anti-union sentiments.

Human Resources and Innovation

The tasks of a human resources department are many. In addition to dealing with the hiring, firing, and managing of personnel, the human resources team also has to keep up to date with employment laws on the local, state, and federal levels. Targeted technologies have been a real aid in increasing human resources efficiency, assisting in the increasingly complex tasks that fall into the responsibilities associated with the department.

Not As Simple As It Used To Be

Hiring personnel is not as simple as it used to be, not with the increasing burden of regulations and the evolving body of employment laws. No longer is hiring just a matter of finding a person with the desired skill set and talents. A business that hires according to the recommendations, for example, of people already working for them can find itself accidentally out of compliance with the EEOC.

That’s because employees are most likely to know people like themselves, within their own network of family and friends, which could result in a workplace that lacks diversity. It could even end up looking like a business deliberately screens out certain types of employment candidates, when in actuality, the business is just dealing with people it knows, or rather are known by the employees they already have. Technology, however, offers innovative solutions for such human resources challenges.

Using efficient and affordable solutions like recruitment tracking software and an applicant tracking system makes it easier to find talented and skilled potential employees outside of the usual network. Many business owners value the innovative potentials of a diverse labor force and will appreciate the widening of the recruitment net. Tracking made simple by sophisticated information sharing and real time data makes employment law compliance much easier with the additional advantage of increasing efficiency without investing excessive manpower hours.

Ease the Complexities of Compliance

Maintaining compliance with all federal, state, and local employment laws is not an easy process. It’s not as though key members of the human resource department team can learn the requirements once and be done with them. The body of law is continuously evolving, with new interpretations and applications of existing employment law, as well as new regulations. Protected classes expand, such as is the case with the addition of obese people to those protected by some disability regulations.

Again, technology steps in with innovative solutions for human resources departments, providing methods to ease the complexities and challenges involved in maintaining employment law compliance. In addition to technologies aimed at helping to ensure hiring practices meet regulatory demands, there are targeted applications to assist in ensuring that employment law knowledge is up to date at all times