Failure to Follow Prudent Employment Practices.
John owned and operated a bar and restaurant serving the spiciest Mexican food in town. Though the restaurant was the proverbial hole in the wall, it was incredibly popular. Beginning shortly after 5 p.m. each work day, customers rushed to join the Happy Hour, often staying through the evening. On the weekends, it was virtually impossible to find a parking spot within two blocks of the restaurant. Customers often had to wait more than an hour to be seated, but they kept coming. The food was great, prices were affordable, and the atmosphere was raucous.
To keep up with demand, John had at least eight cooks in the kitchen at any one time. Counting the hostesses, busboys, wait staff, bartenders, and dish washers, the restaurant employed more than 25 people, many of whom had worked for the restaurant for years. The work place was fast paced and boisterous, with people constantly on the move. The staff got along great, or so it seemed.
John was stunned when he received a packet from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission containing a Charge of Discrimination filed by Amanda, his most dependable hostess, who had resigned one week earlier. Amanda claimed that Charles, the head waiter, had made unwanted sexual advances toward her. When Amanda rebuffed him, Charles began taunting her, encouraging others to join him. Amanda claimed that the harassment was so severe and extreme that she had no alternative but to resign. She claimed that Charles’ conduct constituted illegal sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and that she had been passed over for a promotion when she objected to Charles’ illegal conduct.
How to Avoid Mistake #8
State and federal law create an alphabet soup (ADA, FMLA, ADEA, OWBPA, and others) of employment obligations that raise serious concerns to all business owners. These laws and their corresponding regulations present challenges for even the most sophisticated employer.
Prudent employment practices begin before you hire your first employee, using sound interviewing and hiring policies. Those policies and procedures include well-drafted employee handbooks with comprehensive policies and procedures, followed by thorough and continuous training to ensure that those policies are followed. Implement appropriate disciplinary procedures and, when necessary, dispense discipline even-handedly and fairly. Review your practices and procedures regularly to ensure that they meet the ever-changing legal requirements.
If you have further business related questions, please call our office at 480-733-6800 and ask to speak with Scott Gibson. Scott, an AV rated attorney, handles employment law, trade secrets and restrictive covenants, commercial litigation and intellectual property. He brings with him 27 years of experience and a unique combination of compassion, patience, intelligence, listening ability and commitment.