HR mistakes cost more than small businesses can afford
This 8-part blog series highlights a few of the many laws that apply to all businesses or to those with 11+, 15+, 20+, or 50+ employees. We also provide best practice tips to help small businesses avoid costly mistakes. Many of our examples also apply to non-profit agencies and the public sector.
TIP 5: ADA & ADEA & Pregnancy Act – The Employment Game: Different Players, Same Rules
Discrimination law begin with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but it doesn’t end there. (See my previous blog post Discrimination Blog Post.) Here are three additional discrimination laws you should be aware of:
- ADA – Americans with Disability Act 1990. This states that employers with 15+ employees cannot discriminate against employees who can perform the essential functions of the job – with or without accommodations – as long as it does not cause an undue hardship on the agency. For example, if an administrative assistant has a hearing problem but only needs an amplifier added to the phone to solve the problem, that would not be considered an undue hardship for the employer. But if you only have one custodian and they cannot lift the garbage, that would be a problem since the custodian is the only employee in charge of garbage pickup.
This is another example where having job descriptions for all your positions is a best practice because you can indicate the essential functions and physical requirements of each position. See tips on Job Descriptions.
- ADEA – Age Discrimination in Employment Act 1967. This law applies to employers with 20+ employees and stipulates you must not discriminate against older employees (those over 40 years of age). For example, you can not eliminate positions with older employees because they are paid more than other employees. If a pattern is found that you’ve been doing this, you will subject to a lawsuit.
The best practices for this situation are to treat all employees equally, have an employee handbook/manual that outlines a policy of non-discrimination, provide equal employment opportunities, and maintain a respectful office culture.
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act (Federal & State Laws). Under state and federal law, employers with 15+ employees cannot treat an employee differently – in any employment action – due to pregnancy. The law also makes it clear that pregnancy is not a disability. However, if an employee has a medical condition or disability related to pregnancy, reasonable accommodations must be made consistent with accommodations provided to other employees with similar disabilities if it does not create an undue hardship for the employer.
Best practices include: updating your personnel policies – and include them in your employee handbook/manual – to include the term of pregnancy, childbirth, and pregnancy/childbirth-related medical conditions. Add the appropriate words to your sections on Equal Opportunity Employment, ADA, and Sexual Harassment.
Need help writing job descriptions, drafting an employee handbook, or implementing other best practices? Call us at Randi Frank Consulting. We’re HR experts, and we’re here for you.
Questions? Contact us today!