Managers are the primary contact with most of the rank-and-file employees in an organization. Whether it is an office manager in doctor's office, the warehouse manager in a storage facility, or an inventory manager in a retail operation, all managers interact with their staff on a daily basis. As such, maintaining an educated and informed management team will go a long way in helping your business comply with complicated labor and employment laws.
In an informal poll taken by AllBusiness (a division of Dunn & Bradstreet), managers were asked, "What is a manager's role"? The answers were wide-ranging, but all shared the same underlying theme: daily oversight of the staff:
"A manager's role is to provide proper oversight and direction to a group that is trying to accomplish a certain task. They may also act as a mediator between those under him. Managers may need to be called upon at times to be disciplinarians or morale boosters."
"To make sure the place runs smoothly."
"A manager's role is to maintain a productive atmosphere while conserving cost. He is the communication link between the employees and upper management."
The Manager's Role
For a manager to effectively do their job, they must be educated on the proper methods of discipline, motivation, and management. Furthermore, managers act as a direct extension of the executives and ownership of the organization. As such, any misstep by a manager may expose the entire organization to an employment lawsuit. While much of a manager's role may seem like common sense, they must virtually become employment law and human resources experts to do their job properly.
Dozens of State and Federal laws dictate precisely how managers can treat employees, speak to them, discipline, warn, and terminate them. Some of the most important laws governing these areas are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits employment discrimination; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older; the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), which prohibits disability discrimination, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which, among other things, provides monetary damages in cases of intentional employment discrimination.
Educated Managers = Safe Employers
So, while you may have hired your manager to "make sure the place runs smoothly", or to "maintain a productive atmosphere", equally, if not more important, is to make sure your management team is aware of the laws that govern their daily interaction with their staff. If you follow the steps below, you'll be on your way to protecting your company, and yourself, from lawsuits:
- Make sure management is familiar with all company policies and procedures;
- Managers should actively review the Employee Handbook;
- They should be familiar with the company Mission Statement;
- Managers should be positive role models, always acting ethically with motivational leadership skills.;
- Act professionally at all times;
- Encourage management to attend training classes to further educate themselves;
- CONSTANTLY and CONSISTENTLY contact the Human Resources department before taking employment-related action.