UNIT I STUDY GUIDE
Introduction to Human Resource Management and Employment Laws
MHR 6451, Human Resource Management Methods 2
Unit Lesson In order to access the following resource, click the link below. College of Business – CSU. (2016, September 1). Cooperative environment [Video file]. Retrieved from
https://youtu.be/ubRogCU9148 To view the transcript of the video above, click here. Welcome to the course! This lesson will review and help you check your understanding of some of the most misunderstood and critical employment laws that impact the legal environment in human resource management (HRM). We will also start the discussion of what actions employers may take to defend themselves against liability. The Impact of Employment Law on an Organization’s EEO Policy The effects of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have been summarized below:
All public and private employers with 15 or more employees are forbidden to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, genetic information, or age.
Employers cannot retaliate against someone in a protected category who complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or took part in an investigation or litigation.
Applicants’ and employees’ genuinely held religious traditions are protected; therefore, employers are expected to reasonably accommodate religious activities unless it would impose an undue hardship on the business.
Employers cannot discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth (U.S. EEOC, n.d.-b).
The act covers all private and public educational institutions as well as the federal, state, and local governments. The act prohibits employment agencies—public or private—from denying transfer or recommendations of employment for an individual due to any protective category. An Organization’s EEO Policy The equal employment and anti-discrimination policy of a company pertains to every aspect of the organization’s relationship with its employees and involves the following elements:
staffing (to include recruiting and selection),
hiring and onboarding,
training and development,
work environment conditions,
benefits management, and
policy implementation. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission The EEOC was established by Title VII to manage and enforce these laws in the work environment. This law, as well as demographic and globalization changes, has transformed the face of the modern workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2015) report shows that 46% of the workforce is made up of women, and 33% of the workforce is made up of minorities. Growth is expected to continue due to an increase in international business opportunities; to do business abroad, employers must hire individuals who are knowledgeable about other cultures and have the language skills to be successful.
MHR 6451, Human Resource Management Methods 3
Working Knowledge of Discriminatory Employment Practices To avoid discrimination in any organization, there are several concepts to keep in mind. Adverse impact/disparate impact: Simply put, adverse impact happens when an employer’s policy, practice, or decision has a negative impact on a protected group—even if it is unintentional. Adverse impact can be found in many human resources (HR) functions: recruiting, hiring, training and development, promoting, transferring, downsizing, and conducting performance appraisals, among other functions. What is important here is that if adverse impact is present, an organization is open to charges of discrimination. Adverse impact can be the eventual outcome of systematic discrimination according to the EEOC (as cited in Silverman et al., 2006). Most recently, the EEOC has been pursuing alleged practice and pattern discrimination with its implementation of the systematic program. The EEOC’s systematic program can bring unwanted exposure to employers and possible class-action lawsuits against employers; therefore, employers should be prepared for investigations. One of the EEOC’s systematic strategies is to turn a single discrimination charge into an investigation. For example, discriminatory barriers in hiring and promotions may lead to inequitable access to management development programs and executive positions for protected classes. Disparate treatment: The difference between disparate impact and disparate treatment is that disparate treatment is intentional. For example, if an employment test is given only to African American applicants, this would qualify as disparate treatment. In contrast, if all applicants were tested for the same skill and the results from the test eliminated the African American applicants disproportionately, this would qualify as disparate impact. Defenses Against Discrimination Allegations: Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ) Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees based on things such as race, religion, sex, or national origin, there are times when organizations can legally hire employees based upon a specific religion, sex, or national origin. In that case, the organization must prove they have a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ) for that position and that it is necessary for the normal operation of the business to select an employee based on that protective category. Consider the examples below. In the case of gender and religion, an example of a BFOQ position would be for the Catholic Church to hire a male priest who also must be of the Catholic religion to perform the duties of that position. In the case of national origin, an example of a BFOQ position would be for a movie company to hire an actor of Native American descent to play the part of a Native American chief in order for the movie to be authentic. Employment Laws Evolve Employment laws continued to evolve after 1990 with the introduction of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. The ADA was later amended in 2008. The Civil Rights Act of 1991: The Civil Rights Act of 1991 had a significant impact on employers, placing more responsibility back on the employers for the burden of proof and allowing for compensatory and punitive damages (U.S. EEOC, n.d.-a). For example, if an applicant or employee can show that an employment practice, such as the requirement of a college degree, has an adverse impact on a protected group, then the burden of proof goes back to the employer, who must establish that the disputed practice is job-related. ADA Amendments Act of 2008: The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) significantly affects both the employee and the employer. The EEOC was narrowly interpreting the definition of a disability, stating that the disability must substantially limit major life activities; therefore, the purpose of the 2008 ADAAA was to make it easier for employees to demonstrate that their disabilities were affecting one of their major life activities (U.S. EEOC, 2008). This was accomplished by adding a list of examples of major life functions (e.g., thinking, sleeping, reading). Also, under the new law, if an employee’s impairments can be controlled with medication or other learned behavioral changes, the employee will still be considered disabled under the ADA (U.S.