Pittsburgh Employment Law Blog

Why discrimination lawsuits are on the rise

There is no real positive thing that can come out of an employment discrimination lawsuit other than hindsight. A lawsuit, whether win or lose, can result in a tarnished reputation for your company. It can also mean very high costs for something that is easily prevented.

So, how can an employment discrimination lawsuit be prevented before it happens? The answer lies in getting clued up as an employer or as a human resources manager about what duties you owe to your employees, and what responsibilities your employees have toward each other.

The dangers of oil and gas extraction

If you participate in oil and gas extraction activities as part of your work activities, then you will be aware that there are some risks and dangers associated to them. However, your employer has the legal duty to mitigate these risks as much as is reasonably possible. There are also many protections in place for you as an oil and gas extraction worker.

Extraction activities involve drilling and may require the use of a whole host of different equipment that could have their own dangers. There are countless control requirements in place for things such as vehicle operations, hazardous energy, high pressure lines and preventing accidents. You can read more about these on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website.

Accommodating the needs of disabled employees

As an employer, you will know that it is illegal for you to discriminate against disabled employees. This is true for both the hiring and selection process, but also for accommodating the needs of disabled employees once they are employed. The way that you accommodate these needs will depend largely on the nature of the disability that a person has. However, in order to avoid costly lawsuits, it is important that you know in detail the duties that you have as an employer.

There are protections in place for all employees that are classified as disabled in one way or another. This could be a physical disability or a mental disability. Although discrimination is prohibited, the employee in question must have abilities that makes him or her qualified to do the job required.

How is overtime pay regulated?

As an employer, understanding the law when it comes to minimum wage, overtime and the classification of workers is vital. Wage and hour laws determine how much employers must legally pay their workers for hourly work. Employers run the risk of being subject to expensive lawsuits if they underpay their employees or deny them of overtime benefits when they are entitled to them. As employers, therefore, it is important to always stay updated.

When it comes to overtime pay, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has set certain rules. If an employee has worked more than 40 hours in a week, then any hours worked after this is overtime. Overtime must be 150 percent of the employee's standard pay.

Key factors to consider regarding employee classifications

Employers are expected to treat their employees with fairness, respect and dignity. One of the regulations in place to ensure this is the Fair Labor Standards Act.

This act, along with other laws, helps to regulate the relationship between an employer and employee. One of the most crucial aspects is payment, which tends to be a catalyst for a growing number of lawsuits. To help avoid such instances, it is important that employers understand a few key factors regarding employee classifications.

The most common employment lawsuits are avoidable

One of the biggest mistakes that employers make in a human resources context is by assuming that since they have good intentions for their employees, they are not at any risk of being involved in an employment lawsuit.

The reality is that any employer can be involved in a lawsuit, and they should make sure not to be complacent about this. They should look out for warning signs and put procedure in place to ensure that potential lawsuits are avoided. The following are some of the most common avoidable lawsuits.

Negligent hiring and how to avoid it

Many aspects of hiring come down to lowering the potential risk for litigation and claims. Therefore, it is understandable that some recruiters are cautious about performing thorough background checks on prospective employees, for fear of being sued for an invasion of privacy.

While it is wise to be aware of the risks of background checks, it is crucial that you understand the dangers of what can be referred to as negligent hiring.

Avoiding harassment lawsuits as an employer

The more recent employee awareness and heightened sensitivity toward what constitutes harassment and discrimination in the workplace has lead to a sharp increase in claims initiated by employees.

As an employer, you can not control the actions and the behaviors of every individual employee; however, you can put certain procedures in place to minimize the risk.

Dealing with the abuse of medical leave

As an employer, you will undoubtedly have had to deal with many occasions of employees taking an excessive amount of medical leave, leading you to suspect that they were abusing the system. Of course employees have the right to stay at home and recover when they are sick, but believing that your company may be suffering due to those who are abusing their right to sick leave can be concerning.

You might be frustrated by a doctor's note that was unspecific and ambiguous. However, you could be concerned about the consequences of bringing up the issue to your employee. It's important to deal with issues such as these professionally and have a formal procedure.

FLSA violations in the gas drilling industry

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 protects employees by establishing minimum wage, overtime pay and other regulations to ensure fair employment. Businesses do well abiding by these laws to prevent expensive litigation from mistreated workers.

Not all lawsuits stem from intentional mistreatment by employers to save money, however. Sometimes poor record keeping, ignorance of the law and other negligent acts can land businesses in the courtroom. Such violations of the FLSA, intentional or not, are ever present in the gas drilling industry. Be aware of these common problems to avoid a lawsuit on your hands.