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Common employment law problems to avoid

Employment litigation is a frustrating reality for many Rockville companies. Although advances in human resources techniques have allowed many companies to avoid many of the most common types of employment litigation problems, there are many common employment lawsuits which keep getting filed because of poor HR training.

"HR is about more than a manual, more than classes and training," said one general counsel for a major company. "We think of it as a living, breathing organism that works inside the culture of the company. Business owners need to have the proper policies in place, and they have to manage and enforce those policies."

Proper policy enforcement can help avoid some of the most common types of employment lawsuits including:

  • Worker misclassification. It is important to know whether an employee is properly classified as a contractor, exempt employee, or non-exempt employee. "Employers who improperly classify workers can run into serious penalties with regards to taxes, withholdings and overtime wages," one attorney warned.
  • Overtime pay problems. Related to the worker misclassification issue, some employees may be entitled to overtime pay if they work over 40 hours per week. Employers should also enforce policies which make sure that employees are following state work-break laws.
  • Discrimination or harassment. It is important to have proper policies against workplace discrimination and harassment. It is also important to follow your firing policy the same way for all employees to avoid provoking an unwarranted discrimination lawsuit. "Many business owners have firing procedures, but most don't actually follow them," one attorney noted.

Source: The Washington Post, "Common HR nightmares employers can avoid," Melina Mara, Jan. 12, 2012

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