Courts Go After HR Professionals who Violate Federal Employment Law

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Treating employees fairly and in accordance with the law is important.  Knowing what the law is and sticking to it is of paramount importance to management and HR professionals.

Because of recent court decisions, it has been made clear that judges and juries are willing to not only rule against companies who violate labor laws but also impose personal liability on supervisors and HR professionals who violate federally mandated employment laws.

Personal liability has been written into the law by the very definition of what an employer is. Within the Family air Labor Standards Act or FLSA, the word “Employer” is: “any other person who acted directly or indirectly, in the interest of an employer”.  If a manager, supervisor or HR professional falls under this definition, personal liability could be applied if a lawsuit is brought.

If, for an example, an employee is fired because of excessive absenteeism, because of the legal requirements of the Family Medical Leave Act or FMLA, for example, the person who terminated the employee could be personally liable and the worker whose rights were violated under the FMLA could bring suit not only against their company but the HR director or supervisor as well and could realistically collect from all parties if they win their case.

While several high-profile cases have made the headlines showing that juries do not look favorably on companies who violate the FMLA or FLSA, federal statutes are not consistent about individual liability.

Other federal laws such as the Equal Pay Act, the Employment Retirement Income Security Act and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) allow lawsuits to be brought against supervisors and even other employees while conversely, other statutes such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Age Discrimination Statute do not allow for personal liability in cases brought against individual supervisors or HR directors.

The best way to prevent such lawsuits is to be prepared and know the law and treat all employees with fairness. Managers or supervisors can go a long way in not giving preferential treatment tip some employees over others and adhering to company policy. All meetings between an employee and supervisors or HR should be well documented in order to avoid potentially costly mistakes when a case ends up in court.

The job of an HR professional is complex and keeping up-to-date on what the law says regarding human resource issues is something every company needs to take seriously. You can rest assured that at NetPEO, we keep informed about and understand the law.  We can help you stay current on what is required by both state and federal statutes.

We offer a complete range of services that include payroll, management of employee benefits and liability management for employers, brokerage services, and employee leasing.

Contact us today to discuss your company’s current needs and let us answer any questions you have. Call to schedule a free assessment today.  Let NetPEO help you with all of your employee payroll needs.