Posts Tagged ‘documenting’

Four Tips to Remember When Documenting

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

Whether you’re about to give an employee performance review or investigate a harassment claim, how you document is important. Documenting employee actions provides necessary support for a number of workplace decisions: pay increase, termination, suspension, promotion, etc. Proper documentation helps you make better decisions for your company and your workforce. A good written account may also reduce your risk of legal liability.

Here are four things to not forget when putting things down on paper:

Use Specifics

All employer documents have the potential to be at the center of an employee complaint or lawsuit. Knowing this, it’s best to use as many specifics as possible—so that if a third-party reads the document, they know exactly what has happened. Include all parties involved, exactly when and where the event happened and how you intervened.

Be Immediate

Once you’ve given a performance review or dealt with a complaint, you should document the details while they’re still fresh in your head. You could lose crucial details even waiting just a few days after the incident occurred. Make the document work for you instead of against you.

Be Clear

Because your documents have the possibility of reaching a courtroom, being as clear as you can be will work in your favor. For example, if you have poor handwriting, type up your document. If you are unsure about an incident, don’t lie or embellish—say that you are unsure. Honesty and a good effort will help you.

Be Consistent

Treat all employees equally. If you are going to write someone up for blatantly disobeying a policy, you have to write up everyone who breaks that same rule. Same goes for a positive example—praise employees when they deserve it and mark it on their performance reviews. If you don’t follow this rule, you could get slapped with a discrimination suit, especially if your documents can’t clear your name.

For guidance on documenting specific circumstances, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Photo Source: Victor1558

4 Things Employers Should Know About the ADAAA

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act  (ADAAA) in 2008 with the intent to focus trials on whether discrimination occurred instead of whether an impairment is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). With the burden of proof now shifted to the employer, it is important for HR departments to be aware of and up to date with the act’s revisions. Knowing the details of the ADAAA will help your organization stay compliant with the law and avoid a lawsuit and accompanying fees.

Here are four things you should know about this act—

1. The definition of a disability is broader.

The original ADA stated that a disability was anything that substantially limits a major life activity. Now that the list of “major life” activities has expanded, more employees are covered under the revised act and can potentially claim a disability.

2. Mitigating factors do not determine whether an employee has a disability.

Under the ADAAA, mitigating measures, which can reduce or eliminate a disability’s effect can’t be considered when an employer or a court is determining whether an employee has a protected disability. Eye glasses are the one exception to this rule.

3. The definition of “reasonable accommodation” is unchanged.

The act clarifies that only individuals who have an impairment that limits a major life activity and a record of the impairment are eligible to receive reasonable accommodation. It is important to note that employers have flexibility under this section of the act. They are not required to fulfill the employee’s exact request if suitable alternatives are available.

4. Documenting is your best protection.

As with most human resources situations, documenting all steps in your process is key to protecting yourself against an unfavorable lawsuit outcome. Before making any reasonable accommodations for your employees, you should request from them documentation by a medical professional affirming their disability. Document all the steps you take in ensuring that your company is doing its best to accommodate employees without undue hardship on its end.

With the ADAAA in full effect, employers should review their handbook policies regarding disabilities and requesting reasonable accommodation. Your company’s employee handbook should include the new definition of a disability. Training your managers with direct reports on how to adequately respond to disability mentions and accommodation requests will also help you stay out of the courthouse.

Labor and employment lawyers from Ogletree Deakins will discuss the ADAAA in more detail at CAI’s 2012 Employment and Labor Law Update on May 2 and May 3. In addition to a review of the ADAAA, conference presenters will give participants updates on the most recent news and changes in state and federal employment laws. Additional topics include: workers’ compensation, healthcare reform, FLSA exemptions and more. Register for the conference today: www.capital.org/lawupdate.

Photo Source: Leo Reynolds