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In The Face of Historic Economic Pressures Companies Must Still Focus on Compliance or Risk Lawsuits

By Janell Stanton, HR & Employment Attorney, Compliance Center

It is no secret that for many months, businesses have been struggling on multiple fronts: historic difficulty hiring qualified employees, supply chain issues, and a US inflation rate that is currently at 8.52%, driving costs to unprecedented highs. These difficulties have put pressure on companies to operate more efficiently, and often with a skeleton crew. In some instances, companies have allowed compliance to sit on the back burner to deal with more pressing challenges, often with dire consequences.

Consider a case that a Washington HVAC contractor recently settled with the EEOC. The case involved allegations against the HVAC contractor’s owner who was accused of sexually harassing female employees, including telling women they did not belong in the building trades, engaging in nonconsensual touching, leaving condoms and lubricant out in public areas of the building, and asking women to wear more revealing clothing. Ultimately, the contractor reached a settlement with the EEOC agreeing to be subject to federal oversight for five years and pay out a total of $361,000 to seven women who were subjected to the owner’s harassing conduct

Against this backdrop, it has never been more important for companies to recommit to compliance: starting with anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.

Review: HR representatives should review existing policies and ensure they are up to date. If any changes are needed, or an audit reveals some employees have not received the policy, HR should undertake to ensure all employees receive and acknowledge receipt of the policies.

Train: All employees and managers should receive anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training, ideally on an annual basis. Companies should ensure that they comply with any specific state or local laws requiring training.

Enforce: Compliant policies are no good if they are not properly enforced. HR must take all allegations of discrimination and harassment seriously, regardless of the position of power the perpetrator may occupy. Companies should conduct thorough investigations. Employees should be subject to appropriate remedial action, including termination of employment if the circumstances warrant.

Our partner attorneys and HR professionals at the Flores HR Compliance Center can help ensure your policies are up to date, advise on the best practices for conducting thorough investigations, and guide companies through performance management and termination decisions. To learn more about this Flores service offering, reach out to your Flores Account Manager or Business Development Director, or contact us

The information presented in this post is current as of the publication date. The information included does not constitute legal advice.

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