Water Well Journal

November 2016

Water Well Journal

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/740475

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Page 60 of 90

O vertime pay. Discrimination. Family leave. Harassment . . . Federal employment laws govern all of these issues—and many more—you deal with at some point in your professional life. Supervisors and managers have a shared responsibility with a human resource manager in making sure their interactions and relations with employees are compliant with federal and state employment laws. Here are the 10 most important employment laws supervisors need to be aware of and the major responsibilities supervisors typically are responsible for in ensuring compliance. 1. Job discrimination Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits you from discriminating in hiring, firing, or basing pay on a per- son's race, religion, sex, or national ori- gin. It also prohibits sexual harassment. (www.eeoc.gov) Supervisors must treat all employees and all applicants consistently and equally without regard to their race, color, religion, gender, national origin, or any other characteristics protected under law. They are not to base any em- ployment decisions on these protected characteristics, cannot deny opportuni- ties to an individual because of their characteristics, and cannot retaliate against an employee. All employees are to be treated re- spectfully and unwanted or unwelcomed behavior that constitutes harassment must be avoided. 2. Minimum wage and overtime pay The Fair Labor Standards Act is the nation's main wage law. It sets the fed- eral minimum wage (many states have higher minimums) and requires time- and-a-half overtime pay for hourly em- ployees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek. The FLSA also limits the hours and type of duties teens can work. (www.dol.gov/dol/topic/wages) Supervisors must ensure employees are paid properly in accordance with the law's provisions and for all hours they work (particularly overtime) and are often responsible for managing and mak- ing sure all work hours of non-exempt employees are recorded and verified. In addition, supervisors must under- stand which employees are exempt and non-exempt and should work with the human resource department before mak- ing changes to their employees' essential duties, which could affect their exemp- tion status. 3. Family leave The Family and Medical Leave Act says eligible employees—those with at least a year of service—can take up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid, job-pro- tected time off for the birth or adoption of a child or to care for themselves or a sick child, spouse, or parent who has a "serious" health condition. The FMLA applies to organizations with 50 or more employees. (www.dol.gov/whd/fmla) When employees request medical leave or time off to address medical is- sues, supervisors must refer them to the HR department. Supervisors also must listen for requests meeting the FMLA criteria (such as references to a health condition or family member's health condition) since employees don't need to use the words "FMLA leave" to gain protection under the law. Supervisors are to maintain contact with employees on leave and remain in- formed of changes to their condition or leave, and communicate those changes to their HR department. While employ- ees are on leave, supervisors must be cognizant of employment actions (termination, discipline, etc.). Finally, supervisors also need to follow privacy, confidentiality, record- keeping, and other FMLA-related responsibilities their organization has in place 4. Age discrimination The Age Discrimination in Employ- ment Act says you can't discriminate in any way against applicants or employ- ees older than 40 because of their age. (www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/age.cfm) Supervisors must never take a per- son's age or proximity to retirement into account when making employment deci- sions such as assignments, hiring, firing, pay, benefits—or promotions, training programs, and other terms and condi- tions of employment. Never assume older workers can no longer do a particular task or job, com- municate in a way that implies bias, re- place older workers with younger ones for illegitimate reasons, or discipline older workers more harshly. 5. Disability discrimination The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits job discrimination against qualified people with disabilities (those who can perform the job's essential functions with or without a reasonable accommodation). (www.eeoc.gov/ laws/types/disability.cfm) Never immediately reject applicants because you think their disability would prevent them from doing the job. When hiring, stick to questions about the app- licant's ability to perform the job's essential functions; don't ask questions revealing an applicant's disability. ALEXANDRA WALSH PEOPLE AT WORK TEN EMPLOYMENT LAWS EVERY SUPERVISOR SHOULD KNOW These federal laws are ones that govern every business. waterwelljournal.com 56 November 2016 WWJ

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