By: Dan Cohen – 1/15/15
The Holidays are over. We have rung in the New Year. And, business has been back in session for nearly two weeks. If you blink, the snow will soon be melting and the annual pilgrimage to Comerica Park for Opening Day will be upon us. Time really does have a way of flying by, doesn’t it? 2015 holds much in store for us. If you have not already noticed, we have an overly active federal government. Some federal agencies, like the NLRB, have been extremely active while others, like the DOL, have received additional funding to go on the offensive. The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether pregnant employees must be provided with accommodations similar to those provided to non-pregnant employees. Criminal background investigations, medical marijuana, social media and LGBT rights will continue to be in the forefront.
So, my question is: What are you waiting for? And, my challenge is: What are you doing to protect your business? Now, is certainly not the time to let down your guard. Your hiring guidelines, employment applications, employee communication programs, leave of absence and accommodation policies, pay practices, disciplinary forms, restrictive covenants, record-keeping and handbooks should all be reviewed. Quite frankly, if your handbook has not been reviewed for over a year, it is already outdated thanks to the NLRB. I suspect your other forms, policies, guidelines and agreements can use some freshening-up as well.
Most of these projects are not labor intensive and can be completed in short order at minimum expense. There is no better way to prepare for a DOL audit, union organizing drive, Bullard Plawecki Request, EEOC Charge, sexual harassment complaint or lawsuit than to have things in place beforehand. From my humble perspective, if you are not prepared before the fox is at the henhouse, then you are sure to lose some hens. Don’t find out that you are misapplying the white collar overtime exemptions during the DOL audit or that your sexual harassment policy does not pass muster during the EEOC investigation. Now is the time to shore these things up and take chance out of the equation. Otherwise, you are likely to spend more money defending yourself and you might not have a good defense when it is all said and done.