You’re small business is growing. Are you recruiting the best talent from the most diverse candidate … [+]
When you consider quarterly and annual business goals, chances are you that you are only thinking of strategies that directly relate to revenue. But do you have strategies in place to reduce litigation risk?
Google, IBM and PriceWaterhouseCoopers are all defending age discrimination lawsuits this year, with Google settling for $11 million to avoid litigation. While you might not be in the same league business-wise, you are still bound by the same employment laws.
Small companies and start-ups often don’t have enough resources or do not allocate funds to support an in-house HR. In most cases, smaller companies outsource functions like recruiting and payroll. Without having someone responsible for compliance-related HR (equal opportunity, affirmative action, employee relations, and diversity and inclusion), you risk oversight.
Protect Your Company and Your Resources
When Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, employee protections included race, religion, sex, national origin or color became illegal and the journey toward inclusion began with the start of compliance and equal employment opportunity initiatives. A few years later, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) was added to protect employees 40 years of age and older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, discharge, compensation, or terms, conditions or privileges of employment. All of these protections are administered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
In small companies and startups, the most likely HR-related mistakes occur in recruiting and hiring. If you are posting an equal opportunity statement, be sure that it includes all the protected categories. Oversights happen, as in the case of these two statements taken from small Texas-based companies.
Can you see the omission?
Taken from a real company based in Texas.
Once leadership is made aware of the legal oversight, no doubt they will be quick to react.
Both companies neglect to include age.
In the first instance, the company was notified of the mistake by an outside consultant. Not only did the company immediately add the missing language, after reviewing their website they also added images to make it more inclusive.
While the second company, only recently notified, has yet to respond, it’s just a matter of time. After all, smart leadership understands the monetary value of compliance.
Another area where language can create risk is job postings. Having someone knowledgeable in EEO, compliance and diversity and inclusion can ensure announcements don’t target specific groups at the exclusion of others. After all, the goal is to hire talent from the most diverse candidate pool.
The following chart provides examples of exclusionary language and what you can do to fix it.
Some dos and don’ts for job postings.
Furthermore, omit requesting date of birth or year of graduation in the applicant process. And to protect against gender or age bias, do not require salary history.
Finally, when relying on AI to screen the candidate pool, make sure you are not using technology to target employees in a way that unlawfully excludes others. It could be illegal, according to this law article.
Listen to the Evil HR Lady
If you don’t have a qualified internal resource to ensure job postings and web copy do not violate any State or Federal laws, retain an experienced HR professional.
Suzanne Lucas, otherwise known as the Evil HR Lady, suggests you reconsider expanding your team to include an HR pro. There are many areas related to HR that could become costly if not handled properly. In her post, Tips About Dealing With Problems When There’s No HR, she paints a clear picture.
“Hopefully, the management at your company will realize that whatever money they save by not paying for an HR manager, they are losing in not having a skilled person running the people side of things,” Lucas writes. “Just one lawsuit can cripple a small business, possibly forever—far more than paying a professional to handle the HR tasks.”
With 2020 right around the corner, how will you ensure business resources are protected to the fullest extent possible?