There are many different functions and roles of law in the business society. When describing employment law, there is a broad area that governs how employers interact with their employees, former employees and applicants for employment. These laws and regulations are not meant to be described in a short paper.
They are detailed laws that require application to an employee’s specific situation and should be discussed at length to ensure the correct interpretation of the regulation. As an office manager that was put in charge of the Human Resources department of my organization, I was thrust into a world of complex laws that took many hours to understand. To be given this type of “fight or flight” role in my company was stressful to say the least. Ensuring compliance with federal regulations regarding organizations such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or learning about COBRA laws should be administered by someone with many hours of training in employment law.
To be thrust into the fire of this situation at my company was careless of the management and they were ripe for a possible lawsuit if an employee felt the regulations were out of compliance. It is for this reason that I chose to evaluate the website of the U.S. Department of Labor and the website of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As an HR professional these websites are very helpful in outlining the laws and regulations that apply to each and every employee.
Website #1 – www.dol.gov This is an excellent website dedicated to ensuring that Human Resources professionals, employment attorneys, and of course, employees can find information about the laws and regulations that govern the employment world. The mission of the Department of Labor (DOL) in relation to employment law is as follows:
“In carrying out our mission, the Department administers a variety of Federal labor laws including those that guarantee workers’ rights to safe and healthful working conditions; a minimum hourly wage and overtime pay; freedom from employment discrimination; unemployment insurance; and other income support. The Department of Labor is responsible for administering and enforcing 180 federal laws covering 10 million employers and 125 million workers. It would be impossible to outline all of the laws but here are a few examples of the laws that the DOL summarized in their website as key to employers/employees:
Workplace Safety & Health – this details OSHA and the fact that employers have a general duty under the OSH Act to provide their employees with work and a workplace free from recognized, serious hazards. ·Unions & Their Members – this details the power that DOL has to ensure a proper relationship between the union and its members. This law also covers how a union is governed and its officers elected.
The Family and Medical Leave Act –the law requires employers of 50 or more employees to give up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave to eligible employees for the birth or adoption of a child or for the serious illness of the employee or a spouse, child or parent. As you browse through the website of the DOL there are many useful links that help to answer questions about every law.
For example, if an HR professional is looking for help regarding health plans and benefits, there is a full page dedicated to the assistance needed to find out if your organization is in compliance with federal law. The compliance assistance page details federal law regarding retirement and pension plans, COBRA questions and health benefit plans. In regards to COBRA there is an entire page of information regarding what the law requires to ensure that employees receive continuing coverage of their health benefits.
This page gives detailed information about the time frame that an employer must utilize to ensure that they remain within the parameters of the law. It also gives contact information for the DOL in case further information is needed or a complaint filed. The DOL website serves a very good purpose for a Human Resources professional as the content on laws and regulations is detailed and complete. Every federal law is available on the website or a link provided as to where the law can be found. This is extremely helpful when research is necessary to ensure compliance is achieved. Website #2 – www.eeoc.gov
This website is dedicated to dealing with all matters which come before it in regards to enforcing laws of equal employment opportunity. Their mission includes the development and approval of enforcement policies, authorization of litigation, issuance of Commissioner's charges of discrimination, and performance of such other functions as may be authorized by law, regulation, or order.
The commission is served by five commissioners who participate mainly in employment discrimination cases, fair housing and fair lending cases, criminal police misconduct, hate crime and slavery prosecutions, and enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The website details each specific law that governs equal employment opportunity and a few examples of those laws are as follows on the website: “Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964(Title VII) - which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; the Equal Pay Act of 1963(EPA), which protects men and women who perform substantially equal work in the same establishment from sex-based wage discrimination; and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which, among other things, provides monetary damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination”.
For a Human Resources professional, this type of information is specifically needed to ensure that the managers of each department are in compliance with EEOC regulations. The hiring and firing of employees is a serious undertaking for any manager, but realizing that discrimination is apparent in so many areas makes it necessary for training and re-training of managers to ensure they understand the laws and regulations. HR departments can utilize the EEOC website for specific interpretations of the law as well as the contact information for customer service representatives at the EEOC.
The repercussions from a discrimination lawsuit can be huge from monetary losses to a drop in morale amongst the workers in an organization. As an HR professional this website is very helpful in my understanding of discrimination laws and regulations. It allows me to find reference to the specific areas that my company may lack policy in their employee handbook. It also gives me a website to refer upper management to look at any laws that they may disagree are in place. Conclusion
As a current HR professional with hopes of becoming an HR manager, I find myself looking at employment laws and regulations with a bit of optimism. As I find that there are resources available to help me to learn about all of the laws, I know that I will be on a constant road towards learning as much as possible about employment law. It is my opinion that HR professionals should be just as educated as employment attorneys so that they may apply the law in the organization before it ever reaches a problem that could be taken to litigation.
It is so common for employees to run to an attorney after they quit or get fired from their position claiming that it was not their fault. It is the responsibility of the HR manager to understand the law so that they can ensure that exiting employees have been treated fairly and within compliance with the law. The websites that I evaluated in this paper are both very detailed and excellent references for HR professionals to find specific information regarding federal employment laws and regulations.
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