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HR Compliance

Keeping pace with your employer regulations can be a headache for small business owners. As an employer, you are obligated to know and comply with all state and federal laws dealing with employees.

Ignorance is not an excuse to get out of fines or penalties

Business owners can build goodwill and limit liability risk by planning out steps for Hiring, Onboarding, Evaluating, and Terminating Employees. Every business is different and generic forms will set you up to fail when a claim is filed against you by an employee. The documents you use with employees (Employee Handbook, policies, and contracts) must be drafted to accurately represent your business, your management style, and the particular circumstances.

Failure to TRAIN your Supervisors and Employees presents a considerable liability risk.  We can help employers navigate HR obligations.  Protect your business so you are not caught blindsided.

Hiring Employees

Prepare Ahead of Time. Once you have decided to hire a new employee, you should create specific parameters for the open position BEFORE you begin the hiring process!

Use the Same Job Application. The key to avoiding a discrimination claim is to use the same employment application and other pre-employment forms for all applicants for a particular position or job category.

Prepare for Interviews

Standardize the interview process to ensure consistency.  Ensure that each interviewer fully understands:

  • the job duties and responsibilities;
  • the essential functions of the job;
  • the work an employee in the same position (or the departing employee in that position) actually does on a day-to-day basis;
  • the legal risk associated with certain questions and disclosures; and
  • company policies relevant to hiring, including its equal employment opportunity and nepotism.


Keep your onboarding process organized and timely.  Documentation of recruiting and hiring activities is often used as evidence during litigation in discrimination, negligent hiring, and other employment-related claims.


Don’t let your workplace BE the next headline.  Train your workforce about what is – and isn’t – acceptable in your office. Training does not cost money, it saves money!


The reality is that it only takes ONE employee to file a complaint.  Training is NOT just for big companies!  Training your people, especially SUPERVISORS, on their legal responsibilities is vital in today’s climate.


Make your HANDBOOK a tool, not a stumbling block!  Ensure all policies and procedures governing employees are:

  • Tailored to specific business needs and circumstances.
  • Clear. Use plain language and avoid legal jargon in employee handbooks and policies. Employees cannot follow rules they do not understand.
  • Simple. Avoid excess detail. Simple policy language allows employers to exercise discretion.
  • Reasonable. Use common sense when evaluating whether policies are fair. Fairness is a primary consideration for juries and judges evaluating legal claims brought by disgruntled employees.
  • Realistic and relevant. Do not impose unrealistic or irrelevant expectations on employees.
  • Accessible. You must provide employees with copies of written policies. You should be able to demonstrate the employee had notice of the policies.
  • Professional. Avoid excessively casual or overly friendly language in policies.
  • Supported by a business purpose. Connect every policy and procedure to a legitimate business justification.
  • Consistent with one another. Review employment policies as a whole to ensure they are consistent.
  • Current. Failure to comply with new or amended laws may create additional exposure for employee litigation.
  • Consistent with at-will employment status. Be careful not to modify at-will employment status.
  • In line with contract requirements. Employee discipline involving employees working under an employment contract must be consistent with their contract terms.
  • Respectful of protected activity. Employers must not maintain policies that impose employee discipline for protected activities.


Ensure employees who resign submit resignation notice in writing. These documents can be helpful if an employee later disputes that his or her termination was voluntary. Document the reasons for the termination. If an employee is involuntarily terminated, document the reasons for the termination in an objective tone and ensure that there are sufficient supporting documents. To protect against security breaches, employers should revoke the departing employee’s access to the employer’s systems, including email, voicemail, passwords, and remote log-ins.

Ensure Employee Returns Employer Property and Records. Require the departing employee to return all employer property and records, such as:

  • desktop or laptop computers;
  • verification that company data has been removed from personal devices;
  • building key cards and passes;
  • electronic key fobs;
  • documents and files in any format, including electronic data; and
  • corporate credit cards.

Proper documentation and implementation of an employer’s policies and procedures are central to an employer’s success in avoiding or defending against wrongful termination claims.

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When it comes to legal issues for small businesses, the overwhelming cost of fixing a problem outweighs the investment of doing it right from the start.

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