Retired Goldstein Buckley Cechman Rice & Purtz Attorney Jeff Rice

by J. Jeffrey Rice, Managing Partner

Most Florida businesses are finally showing dramatic signs of recovery. But with new growth must come more awareness of the legal issues which can disrupt or ruin our businesses.

Before You Hire

With growth comes added employees, and hiring those employees comes with rules to protect them from discriminatory hiring practices. These include age, sex and ethnic discrimination. Any of these can create legal problems which can disrupt a growing business.
To protect your company from legal problems in this area, make sure that those employees who handle hiring are educated in these areas and provided with the necessary tools. This can be as simple as making sure that you keep detailed files of applicants’ resumes to show you hired the most qualified person without concern of gender, ethnicity or age. It is wise to have two of your HR people do interviews when possible. Remember that potential employers are legally bound not to indicate if they would prefer a man or woman for a particular job. And during interviews of potential employees, employers cannot ask applicants if they are married or have children.

Once hired, legal concerns can arise if an employee is harassed due to race or sex by other employees or management. To protect your business from such concerns, it is advisable to have a written policy in place prohibiting such conduct (with all employees signing a document acknowledging this policy). You should educate employees on proper work place conduct, and address complaints immediately once they are raised. This would include potential termination of employees guilty of violating a policy or committing any of these transgressions.

Management is legally responsible to keep job sites clear of any reported or known hazards, including using faulty equipment or irresponsible use of hazardous chemicals or other like material. Workers are protected from employer retaliation in the event an employee reports a potential problem, so if this occurs, correct the problem immediately.

At Termination

American workers are probably the most protected in the world. An employer must be very careful when dismissing an employee for cause. Make sure to protect your company from a wrongful termination suit by having any employees that are let go sign documents that have been prepared by attorneys which make the reasons and terms of dismissal very clear. If you must terminate an employee, be sure to have at least two people witness the termination meeting and make the meeting direct and succinct.

Speak to an Attorney

This article covers some simple legal issues that should be considered. But employment law is complex, and to further protect yourself, business people should contact an attorney. Call our office at 239-334-1146 and speak to one of our attorneys to ensure you are protected from a costly human resource mistake.