The Legal Issues the Human Resource Management
One of the legal issues the human resource management (HRM) department of any organization manages is employee confidentiality. HRM functions are tasked with keeping sensitive information such as social security numbers, personal addresses, phone numbers, background checks, health records, spousal information, and performance reports confidential (Sherman, 2020; Wilson, 2020). However, HR managers are not required to keep written and oral complaints received from employees private. Examination of complaints can necessitate certain personal information being disclosed to ensure the grievance is thoroughly investigated. According to Sherman (2020), claims of harassment, discrimination, and other complaints that can potentially lead to a lawsuit against the company or its employees should be carefully considered. In such cases, the confidentiality of the accused party and the accused staff member cannot be guaranteed. The concealment of sensitive data, such as the identities of the involved persons, may hinder the investigation. HR departments are advised to ensure company policy complies with state and federal data protection regulations to avoid legal issues arising from sharing information that is legally protected. In addition, employees should be made aware of what data is legally protected.
Furthermore, HR departments are also responsible for dealing with legal issues arising from verbal, physical, and sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Claims of harassment, bullying, or inappropriate behavior witnessed by a third party should be viewed as “the possibility of a lawsuit” (Sherman, 2020). HR managers should investigate internal complaints of harassment and discrimination and maintain control over the situation without legal action being taken by any of the involved parties. HR is accountable for reviewing every grievance filed by the employees and should ensure the issues are resolved. In addition, the HR department must comply with the legal guidelines concerning inappropriate workplace behavior, including anti-discriminatory acts (Wilson, 2020). No employee or potential employee should be discriminated against during all stages of employment, including pre-hiring and contract termination (Wilson, 2020). The HR department is advised to thoroughly explain their decisions regarding the hiring and dismissal of personnel, specifically if they have a protected status. Overall, HR managers should ensure all harassment and discrimination complaints in the workplace are investigated and support their employment and dismissal decisions with evidence to avoid discrimination lawsuits.
HR departments are also charged with creating a safe working environment for all employees. In particular, occupational health, safety, and welfare of all personnel are some of the responsibilities of the HR department. Workplace injuries stemming from exposure to an unsafe environment and psychosocial hazards can harm the health and well-being of the employees and lead to a lawsuit being filed against the company. If an injury is sustained due to faulty equipment or unclear instruction, the company can be accused of negligence to provide a safe environment (Wilson, 2020). As the organization owes a duty of care to all its employees, the HR managers should work with other department supervisors to ensure safety measures are installed throughout. Specifically, department managers should be reminded of the necessity of safety training and regular equipment checks to avoid accidents in the workplace. Moreover, the HR department is recommended to document all safety measures taken in the organization in case of legal disputes with employees (Wilson, 2020). Thus, HR managers should ensure compliance with safety measures to avoid legal action against the company.
Sherman, L. (2020). A guide to top HR legal issues. HR Technologist.
Wilson, J. (2020). 5 legal issues faced in human resources. Legal Reader.