When asked to identify the most frequent type of litigation pending against their company, 40% of findlaw.com survey respondents cited labor and employment cases. According to the respondents, employers are subjected to the most monetary exposure by race, age, and wage-and-hour claims. Not coincidentally, the EEOC reported in its January 2012 Performance and Accountability Report that it had recovered the highest one-year monetary tally, $364.6 million, for private sector complainants.
How do you protect your company from expensive employment claims? Training.
Here’s our Top 5 reasons to invest in the training of your workforce.
1 – Protection Against Discrimination Claims.
Training provides a defense to a subsequent discrimination claim. It allows the employer to clearly communicate the conduct that is appropriate and expected in the workplace.
2 – Higher Morale and Productivity.
In addition to meeting an employer’s legal obligations, a good employment training course can lead to a well-informed and satisfied workforce, which is central to worker productivity and well-being. Employee satisfaction leads to lower costs associated with turnover, tardiness, and apathy.
3 – New Employer Accommodation Obligations.
Under new Department of Labor regulations interpreting the American with Disabilities Act, employers have a higher burden to “reasonably accommodate” disabled employees. Managers should be aware of the employer’s accommodation obligation, including how to identify what might constitute an accommodation request and how to engage in the meaningful dialogue required by the DOL and the courts.
4 – Consistency in Applying Policies.
One of the easiest ways for an employment plaintiff to get to trial on a discrimination claim is to show that a company policy was applied differently to him or her than it was to others. Training your management team gets everyone on the same page, and educates managers on the potential consequences of a seemingly innocent departure from company policy.
5 – Dealing with Wage and Hour Laws.
Employers of all sizes increasingly are becoming the target of DOL audit inquiries and class action or multi-plaintiff lawsuits for wage and hour violations. The misclassification of workers can result in claims of unpaid wages, overtime, liquidated damages, and attorneys’ fees amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Training to avoid such a result is critical.
There are many other reasons to train, but this list provides some good motivators. And remember, while training provides certain legal protections for the company, a significant additional benefit is to make your environment a better place to work. If we can answer any questions you have about training your workforce, please contact any of our employment lawyers for more information.