Employment Concerns for Small Business Owners

Apart from stepping out on a limb and opening up a new business, facing a lawsuit can be one of the scariest things a new business owner faces. Though the hype over litigation in the media is somewhat exaggerated, legal claims are a real threat to business owners of all sizes, but for small business owners in particular. Most small companies or start-ups don’t have a human resources expert on payroll, leaving them open for violation in areas of state or federal employment laws. Employment practices liability insurance is usually what business owners consider their protection against employment-related lawsuits, but this only helps with the financial costs of the situation. The best defense begins with qualified staff who understand employment risks and is followed by strong employment practices.

Addressing Employment Discrimination Concerns

The greatest risk is in the area of employment discrimination, which is a category that can also be extended to wrongful termination. In the last 10 years, it is estimated that over 1 million employment discrimination complaints have been filed with the Equal Employer Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This is the branch of government that investigates and enforces areas of employment discrimination. Employees that lodge a complaint usually go through an employment or wrongful dismissal lawyer, but ultimately, the cases are often evaluated against the following federal laws.

1. Equal Pay Act: This law requires men and women to be paid the same wages when they are performing equal work within the same company.

2. Title VII with the Civil Rights Act: This portion of the law prevents employers from acts of discrimination against a worker based on race, gender, color, religion, or national origin.

3. Age Discrimination in Employment Act: This act prohibits discrimination against employees aged 40 or older in the workplace due to their age.

4. Pregnancy Discrimination Act: With this law, employers are not allowed to discriminate against women who are pregnant or have a related condition.

5. Title I of Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA): The law prevents discrimination against employees who are qualified for a position yet have a disability.

In addition to the federal laws that are in place, many states have their own regulations that need to be considered. This is why having dedicated human resources personnel in place can prevent situations where ignorance of applicable laws a lawsuit scenario. If your company needs support in HR areas, consider working with a professional employment organization.

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