Supervisors and managers share the responsibility with Human Resources to ensure that employment laws are compliant with federal and state employment laws. This is important not only because it’s the law, but because as a supervisor, YOUR NAME will be attached to employee complaints and lawsuits.
There are ten (10) basic statutes and regulations with which, you must be familiar. As a supervisor, typically you will be responsible for in ensuring compliance. You must also be aware that there are other federal and state employment laws that may also touch your responsibilities as well.
Here is the list:
1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act – Prohibit job discrimination in the workplace
Supervisor Responsibilities – Supervisors must treat all employees and applicants consistently and equally, without regard to their race, color, religion, gender, national origin or any other characteristics that are protected under law. Supervisors are not to base any employment decisions on these protected characteristics, cannot deny opportunities to an individual because of their characteristics, and cannot retaliate against an employee. Supervisors are to treat all employees respectfully and avoid unwanted/unwelcomed behavior that constitutes harassment.
2. Fair Labor Standards Act– The FLSA establishes Federal minimum and overtime wage for nonexempt employees.
Supervisor Responsibilities – Supervisors must ensure that employees are paid properly in accordance with the law’s provisions and for all hours that they work (particularly overtime). Supervisors are often responsible for managing and making sure that all work hours of non-exempt employees are recorded and verified. In addition, supervisors must understand which employees are exempt and non-exempt and should work with HR before making changes to their employees’ essential duties, which could affect their exemption status.
3. Family Medical Leave Act – Provides job-protected leave for family and medical reasons.
Supervisor Responsibilities – When employees request medical leave or time off to address medical issues, supervisors must refer them to HR. Supervisors also must listen for requests that would meet the FMLA criteria (such as references to a health condition or family member’s health condition) since employees don’t need to use the words “FMLA leave” to gain protection under the law. Supervisors are to maintain contact with employees on leave and remain informed of changes to their condition or leave, and communicate those changes to their HR department. While employees are on leave, supervisors must be cognizant of employment actions (termination, discipline, etc.). Finally, supervisors also need to follow privacy, confidentiality, recordkeeping, and other FMLA-related responsibilities that their organization has in place.
4. Americans with Disabilities Act – Intended to prevent discrimination of individuals with disabilities in the workplace.
Supervisor Responsibilities – Supervisors need to recognize the need for a reasonable accommodation and address employees’ requests for reasonable accommodations. Supervisors play a key role in the interactive process of discussing what accommodations may fit the individual. Supervisors must also address the day-to-day management and administration of employee accommodations (such as flexible schedules, assignment modifications, etc.). In addition, supervisors often must work with HR to identify the essential functions of the job, which aid the ADA compliance process.
5. Age Discrimination in Employment Act – Discourages treating employees or applicants less favorably because of their age.
Supervisor Responsibilities – Supervisors must never take a person’s age or proximity to retirement into account when making employment decisions such as assignments, hiring, firing, pay, benefits, or promotions, training programs, and other terms and conditions of employment. Supervisors must never assume that older workers can no longer do a particular task or job, communicate in a way that implies bias, replace older workers with younger ones for illegitimate reasons, or discipline older workers more harshly.
6. Equal Pay Act – Discourages paying those who perform the same job differently based on gender.
Supervisor Responsibilities – Although supervisors are often not responsible for deciding compensation, in collaboration with their HR department, supervisors should ensure that employees of both genders are paid equally if they are in the same job, and should take any complaints of pay discrimination to HR. When faced with an employee inquiry regarding different pay for the same job title or role, supervisors should be prepared to point to varying levels of responsibility, duties, skill requirements, or education requirements.
7. Occupational Safety Health Act – Ensures safety as well as prevents illnesses and injuries in the workplace.
Supervisor Responsibilities – Supervisors must provide employees with a work environment that is free of recognized hazards that could cause serious physical harm, and also need to comply with occupational safety and health standards. Supervisors may also be responsible for ensuring that employees receive safety training, assessing hazards in the work area, determining the type of protective equipment needed, investigating incidents and inspecting equipment, and reporting all accidents and injuries that employees have at work.
8. Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) – Prohibits job discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth and related medical conditions.
Supervisor Responsibilities – Supervisors should treat pregnant employees the same as other employees with temporary disabilities on the basis of their ability or inability to work. This includes requests for accommodations in order to perform the essential duties of the job. For example, if you provide light duty for an employee who can’t lift boxes because of a bad back, you must make similar arrangements for a pregnant employee. Similar to other laws, supervisors should not discriminate against pregnant employees in terms of hiring, firing, compensation, training, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.
9. National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) – Protect employees’ rights to collectively bargain and engage in concerted activities.
Supervisor Responsibilities – Supervisors need to understand employees’ rights relative to the NLRA, specifically to engage in collective bargaining and protected concerted activities (such as complaints about unfair labor practices). Supervisors are prohibited from taking adverse action against employees who engage in such activities, such as discrimination, retaliation, interference, or restraint.
10. Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) – Prohibits discrimination of employees or applicants because of genetic information.
Supervisor Responsibilities – If supervisors inadvertently become aware of an employee’s family medical history or information about a medical condition in an employee’s family through the process of FMLA or other medical leave, this information cannot be used to discriminate against the employee. Under GINA, supervisors are also prohibited from harassing an employee or retaliating against an employee because of their genetic information.
DISCLAIMER: This research information does not and is not intended to provide a qualified legal opinion.
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