Protect Your Workplace with 4 Guidelines to Follow for New Hires

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received 99,412 charges of discrimination in 2012, including thousands triggered because of discriminatory hiring practices. With several important laws dictating the rights of employers and job applicants, it’s important to stay on top of changes to ensure your HR department follows the current best practices. Failing to know the relevant labor laws when hiring new employees could expose your company to a lawsuit or formal complaint.

EEOC Compliance

A 1961 executive order by President John F. Kennedy established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which protects employees from unfair discrimination during hiring, promotion, termination and other aspects of workplace life. For HR professionals, it’s important to know which laws enforced by the EEOC affect your agency. For example, private corporations with more than 15 employees must comply with laws protecting against discrimination based on race, religion, color, sex, disability, national origin or genetic information. However, age discrimination laws only apply to private corporations with more than 20 employees. If you’re unsure whether the laws apply to your company, contact an EEOC field office for advice.

In 2011, the EEOC updated its guidelines to include stereotypes of a person based on sex as a form of discrimination. For example, refusing to hire a man because he is gay is a discriminatory hiring practice. The EEOC also expanded protection of transgender individuals and those with other gender identities.

Displaying Labor Laws

U.S. law requires all businesses with at least one paid employee display current state and federal labor laws. Typically, these laws belong in a break room or other conspicuous area that is accessible to all employees. During the hiring process, having clearly posted labor laws demonstrates that you comply with state and federal regulations, including the EEOC rules and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Unpaid Internships

Many companies offer unpaid internships, which are a legal and cost-effective way to achieve certain business goals. However, the Fair Standards Labor Act regulates the use of unpaid internships to prevent employers from abusing the rights of interns. An unpaid internship must include the following characteristics:

  • Similarity to the training that would be given in an educational environment
  • Benefits the intern
  • Does not replace regular employees and requires the intern to work under the supervision of existing employees
  • The employer should not receive immediate advantages from the intern’s work
  • There is no guarantee of a job at the end of the internship period
  • Both the employer and intern understand that the internship is unpaid for its duration

As an HR representative, it’s important to be clear about the role of an unpaid intern when hiring. It may be helpful to print out the relevant portion of the Fair Standards Labor Act to ensure that the applicant understands the terms of the unpaid internship.

Legal Forms

Before an employee may legally work, she must complete Form I-9, which includes documentation of citizenship or legal immigration status. Employees should also fill out IRS Form W-4, which specifies the income tax that should be withheld from wages.