The laws of protecting supervisor employee relationships
Supervisors have a shared responsibility with HR in making sure that their interactions and relations with employees are compliant with federal and state laws. Here are eight (8) of the most important employment laws that supervisors needs to be aware of and the major responsibilities that supervisors typically are responsible for in ensuring compliance.
1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act
Purpose: To prohibit discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
Supervisor Responsibilities: Supervisors must treat all employees and applicants consistently and equally, without regard to their race, religion, gender, national origin or any other characteristics that are protected under the law. Supervisors are not to base any employment decisions on these protected characteristics, cannot deny opportunities to an individual because of their characteristics, and cannot retaliate against an employee. Supervisors are to treat all employees respectfully and avoid unwanted/unwelcome behavior that constitutes harassment.
2. FLSA (Federal Labors Standards Act)
Purpose: To establish a minimum and overtime wage for nonexempt employee
Supervisor Responsibilities: Supervisors must ensure that employees are paid properly in accordance with the law’s provisions and for all hours that they work (particularly overtime). In addition, supervisors must understand which employees are exempt and non-exempt and should work with HR before making changes to their employees’ essential duties, which could affect their exemption status.
3. FMLA (Family Medical Labor Act)
Purpose: To provide job-protected leave for family and medical reasons.
Supervisor Responsibilities: When employees request medical leave or time off to address medical issues supervisors must refer them to HR. Supervisors must also listen for requests that would meet the FMLA criteria (such as references to a health condition or family member’s health condition) since employees don’t need to use the words “FMLA leave” to gain protection under the law. Supervisors also need to follow privacy, confidentiality, recordkeeping, and other FMLA-related responsibilities that their organization has in place.
4. ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)
Purpose: To prevent discrimination of individuals with disabilities in the workplace.
Supervisor Responsibilities: Supervisors need to recognize the need for a reasonable accommodation and address employees’ requests for reasonable accommodations. Supervisors play a key role in the
interactive process of discussing what accommodations may fit the individual. Supervisors must also address the day-to-day management and administration of employee accommodations (such as flexible schedules, assignment modifications, etc.). In addition, supervisors should work with HR to identify the essential functions of the job, which aid the ADA compliance process.
5. ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act)
Purpose: To discourage treating employees or applicants less favorably because of their age.
Supervisor responsibilities: Supervisors must never take a person’s age or proximity to retirement into account when making employment decisions such as assignments, hiring, firing, pay, benefits, or promotions, training programs, and other terms and conditions of employment. Supervisors must never assume that older workers can no longer do a particular task or job, communicate in a way that implies bias, replace older workers with younger ones for illegitimate reasons, or discipline older workers more harshly.
6. EPA (Equal Pay Act)
Purpose: To discourage those who perform the same job differently based on gender
Supervisor Responsibilities: Supervisors should ensure that employees of both genders are paid equally if they are in the same job, and should take any complaints of pay discrimination to HR. When faced with an employee inquiry regarding different pay for the same job title or role, supervisors should be prepared to point to varying levels of responsibility, duties, skill requirements, or education requirements.
7. PDA (Pregnancy Discrimination Act)
Purpose: To prohibit job discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions
Supervisor Responsibilities: Women who are pregnant or affected by pregnancy-related conditions must be treated in the same manner as other applicants or employees with similar abilities and limitations.
8. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act)
Purpose: Governs occupational health and safety in the workplace. Ensures that employers provide employees with a safe and healthy work environment.
Supervisor Responsibilities: Provide employees with a work environment that is free of recognized hazards that could cause serious physical hard, and also need to comply with occupational safety and health standards.
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