It’s a safe bet that you know not to slap your female employees on their backside in this day and age. And racist jokes have no place in the workforce. But employment law is ever-evolving, with courts weighing in on social media, weight, flirtation and vegetarianism.
In general, common sense goes a long way, but legal rulings can throw a curve ball in the game of understanding how employees should be treated.
Don’t despair. Employers still have reasonable rights. You don’t have to perform extraordinary accommodations in many cases. Here are some examples of what employers can expect.
An employer can’t require a worker to speak only English on his own time, such as during lunch breaks, for example. However, when speaking English is an issue of customer service, safety or operational issues, you are protected, says attorney Steve Weisman, who is also a professor at Bentley University in Massachusetts.
2. Moral beliefs
8. Perceived disability
10. Social media
12. Job applications
Bottom line? Stay on top of new rulings, whether through e-mail blasts or consultants and attorneys.
“Lawsuits are extremely expensive and disruptive,” says Schroeder. “You have to respond to discovery, you have to document. You’re pulling people off work for interviews. Your employees are your witnesses and their witnesses.”