As part of an effort to provide quality resources for area businesses, the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a human resource hotline. As part of an effort to promote the hotline, a presentation on 10 things small employers think are wrong about employment law took place Thursday at the Ardmore Convention Center.
Attorneys Jim Priest and Leah Avey delivered the presentation, which proved to be both insightful and entertaining. And as anyone in business can relate, the information was topical as business owners navigate today’s laws and how they pertain to the workforce. Chamber of commerce President Mita Bates said both Priest and Avey came highly recommended.
“When you have a question about employee law in Oklahoma, I don’t know if you can do any better than this,” Bates said.
Items discussed by the attorneys included topics from minimum wage and overtime payments to having policies in place, regardless of the size of a business. The first topic discussed was minimum wage and those eligible for minimum wage. The second topic was employee handbooks and the necessity for policies in place. Avey said every business needs some basic policies, even if they do not have a handbook — particularly with businesses that drug test. Harassment and discrimination were also cited as factors for needing a handbook.
As the world changes, so does the need to better understand employee rights. In discussing social media, it was revealed employers couldn’t fire someone for comments posted on Facebook or another medium.
Priest discussed the difficulties that come with terminating employees, and said there needs to be a paper trail in place.
“Most of the time you want to lead up to a termination, preferably with a meeting,” he said. “There also needs to be a paper trail.”
Avey discussed Equal Employment Opportunity Commission proceedings and the need to take them seriously. She said if there is a discrimination claim, an employee needs to exhaust the administrative route that leads to the EEOC. She cited an example where one business did not act fully in its best interests on one claim.
“One employer simply replied, ‘We think this was wrong’,” she said.
The end result was the EEOC felt there was a case because only one side was presented.
Sexual harassment was also discussed at length. Priest said it was one of the most interesting aspects of the law, and it has grown over the years. From what was primarily a boss-employee aspect has grown to include the entire spectrum of employment relationships.
Within the aspect of hiring, Avey encouraged employers to respond to people they do not hire because they could turn out to be a future employee. She also discussed background checks, which have come under scrutiny because the EEOC feels minorities are discriminated against. Other subjects discussed were documentation and the procedure for hiring an employment law attorney.
Chamber members interested in finding out more about the human resources hotline can call (580) 223-7765.