3 trends in employment law to keep in mind

Discrimination. Violence and bullying. Wage and hour lawsuits.

Those, according to a leading authority on risk management and compliance, are the big three trends to watch in employment law at the moment.

Here’s what Shanti Atkins, the CEO of ELT, had to say on each of these areas:

1. Sexual orientation, religious and disability discrimination. While many employers only train on sexual harassment, other claims are on the rise. That’s why it’s important for employers to have anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and training in place, covering all forms of unlawful harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

More than 20 states at the moment offer sexual orientation protection. That means an employer could face a federal lawsuit if it fails to stay in compliance.

Also, with tensions at a tipping point involving Muslims in the U.S., a record number of Muslim workers are claiming they have been victims of employment discrimination.

And disability discrimination claims are at record highs. The Americans with Disabilities Act make it far easier to file a claim of disability harassment. In fact, most employers and managers know very little about the ADA and often associate it with the FMLA and Worker’s Compensation.

2. Violence and bullying. Twenty percent of all violent crime in the U.S. occurs in the workplace – approximately 1.7 million employees are injured yearly because of workplace assaults. Left unchecked, bullying can quickly escalate into more violent behaviors and into unlawful harassment, exposing your organization to significant legal risk. Most workplace violence is preventable. Spotting warning signs, knowing how and when to report concerns and knowing what to do if you find yourself in a potentially violent situation is key. Employers should look at all their policies to ensure they support the organization’s anti-violence and bullying stance.

3. Wage and hour. The No. 1 employment law risk – wage and hour class-action lawsuits — are exploding and outpacing all workplace discrimination claims combined. These claims now account for an astonishing 84 percent of all employment class-action filed. The Department of Labor estimates that more than 80 percent of employers are out of compliance with federal and state wage and hour laws. Wage and hour claims are easily preventable; however this is an area where employees and managers don’t know the rules. So, we’d advise you to review pay practices and policies to make sure workers are properly paid.

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About the Author

Will Temby

Will has enjoyed a 20-year career in leadership positions in the hospitality and travel industry throughout the U.S. with the Hyatt, Sheraton, Hilton, Renaissance and Steamboat Ski and Resort corporations. Will received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. From 2000-2007, he served as President and CEO of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. He also served as Vice President-Special Projects for the University of Colorado Foundation from 2007 to 2009. Will is a past Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Homeland Defense Foundation and former member of the United States Chamber of Commerce Committee of 100. He is married to Nan, has five wonderful children, and enjoys coaching, traveling, hiking, golfing and skiing.