Minimizing Liability And Damages With Corporate Compliance Training

Minimizing Liability And Damages With Corporate Compliance Training

Corporate compliance training is a necessity for many different types of organizations. Most organizations that provide their employees with such training are legally required to do so. This includes banks, financial institutions, hospitals, and any company that handles dangerous materials. 

An employee that does not have the right type of training and does not understand all the rules that the work is governed by is very dangerous for everyone involved. They can cause a lot of damage to people’s lives, to the company’s finances, and to the image of the company and its clients. Proper training helps shield the company from such damages and keeps everyone safe.

Training Helps People Understand the Gravity of the Situation

The reality is that just being told the rules is never enough. Most people do not bother going through the reading materials. Most people also do not realize how important the rules and regulations happen to be and why they were made in the first place. Think about all the laws people break even though they know better. 

People have a hard time following the laws of traffic and swerve all over the road. People don’t follow littering related laws. People treat company requirements even less seriously than they take traffic offences and littering laws. Any company that does not provide corporate compliance training opens themselves up to the possibility that damages may be caused and they may be liable.

Training Shifts the Liability from the Company to the Employee

Liability is a big problem for organizations. When companies do not train their people they open themselves up to a huge liability. When an employee messes up and goes against the rules or requirements the employee can simply claim that they were never provided proper training. This shifts the whole blame on to the employer and the financial cost of such a decision can be very high. 

This problem is solved through outsourced corporate compliance training. When you outsource the training the training partner will ensure that everyone not only receives the training but also receives the relevant certification. Thus if something bad happens related to compliance the company can show to the courts and to the world that there was proper due diligence practiced from their side and the employee or the third party is to blame.

Not providing your employees with the right corporate compliance training means that danger is looming on the horizon. Even if you do not worry about liability your business can be damaged by an employee not following the rules. Your clients may lose faith in you once they see that your company is not complying with the required regulations.

We also cannot forget that there is a very good reason that the regulations and rules are made in the first place. The whole point of them existing is to prevent something bad from happening and employees that are not fully cognizant of the rules are a risk which no organization should take.

Could You Be the Target of a Corporate Compliance Lawsuit?

a graphic of aiming at a target through a rifle scope

Do not risk the loss of reputation and the cost of a corporate compliance lawsuit. Make sure your entire workforce has been through proven corporate compliance training so they know how to behave on the job within Federal and State guidelines. The risk is otherwise too great.

The conditions for anti-discrimination legal action have been relaxed over recent years so that it is easier today than ever for employees to call foul. There is a proliferation of laws regarding protection of LGBT workers, new legislation facilitating worker suits for pay discrimination, tougher labor and employment laws and the hiring of hundreds of new compliance officials. And, since 2008, all federal contractors and subcontractors are required to adopt codes of conduct and to train their employees on them.

Additionally, even if you win a legal battle waged by an employee over alleged discrimination or harassment, you are liable to be held responsible for retaliation. Here is a case in point:

A St. Louis, Missouri police officer filed a claim of discrimination. After that, she was ordered to attend training, then told she could not go to the training, and then criticized in front of her entire unit by her commanding officer for not attending the training she had been denied. The officer lost her discrimination case, but won on retaliation. (Missouri Ct App 06/28/2016)

Are you sure your managers are clear about the risks for your company every time they evaluate performance, re-assign jobs or respond to employee issues? If you have any doubt, you need to ensure that they are well trained to understand the legal implications of their interactions with employees, to spot employment law risks, document their business reasons for all decisions and seek advice on any employment issues from HR and Legal.

Your goal as an ethical, fair-minded and law-abiding employer is to build a respectful workplace and prevent lawsuits before they even arise.  Give managers the background and the corporate compliance training they need to avoid lawsuits and promote the kind of positive culture you seek.

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Want to Avoid Lawsuits? Make Sure Employees Know How to Behave

A compass that has the "right way" and the "wrong way"

No company wants a lawsuit…they’re costly both in terms of dollars and ruined reputations. The corporate compliance training experts agree—the best way to avoid the courts over harassment and discrimination suits is to make sure your employees, and especially your managers, know the right way to behave. They need proven corporate compliance training.

If you truly want to avoid employment discrimination claims (and who doesn’t), you need to:
  1. Have dedicated experts, internal or external
    You need knowledgeable and experienced experts to whom you can turn when it comes to corporate compliance. You need trusted legal experts who can assess your overall environment, examine your employment systems and processes and advise you on what needs to change before a situation arises that needs to move to the courts.
  2. Make sure you and your managers know the basics
    Be familiar with the basics of anti-discrimination laws…the kinds of questions you can ask in hiring, the employment practices that are considered fair and just, what constitutes harassment, and how to deal with so-called “protected” categories.
  3. Maintain and update an employee manual
    Be sure that every employee receives, reads and understands your company’s policies and procedures. They need to know how discrimination is defined and what process is in place for them to register a complaint or ask a question. 
  4. Set the example
    As a leader, you must set the example of absolute fairness and consistent enforcement of company policy. Insist upon a respectful workplace and demonstrate in your everyday interaction with employees just what that looks like. Communicate your values to your employees and invite their involvement in seeing that differences are celebrated not discriminated against.
  5. Provide sound, proven corporate compliance training
    Don’t assume your managers, and for that matter your employees, know how to behave appropriately and within the ever tightening anti-discrimination laws. Teach managers the importance of maintaining complete and accurate records of employee performance and complaints. Documentation is critical back-up if complaints arise. 
Give managers the background and the corporate compliance training they need to stay legal and promote the kind of positive culture you seek.

There’s Nothing Funny About a Corporate Lawsuit

photo of a very serious clown

Corporate compliance training matters.  When a lawsuit is waged against your company, no one is laughing. It is serious business and you stand to lose reputation, money, customers and employees.

You have a responsibility as an employer to keep abreast of rules and regulations that affect your hiring and firing practices so you can avoid employee-initiated litigation. No one wants to be in this kind of limelight. But it takes work and sustained effort to stay in corporate compliance.

Here are some corporate compliance training tips on what you and your managers need to do:

  1. Understand how the federal Fair Labor Standards Act applies to you and your business. And you need to be conversant, too, with state laws that govern hour and wage laws. These should be followed strictly, to the letter, always.

  2. Be familiar with the laws that prevent discrimination. All workers should be trained in how to treat others fairly regardless of race, sex, age, religion, disability, etc. The list is long but its intention is to respect others across the board.

  3. Be consistent. Review your employee handbook (if you don’t have one, you should) to be familiar with its guidelines and then be sure they are applied consistently and without favoritism or discrimination. Employees who feel they have been singled out for unfair disciplinary action are quick to seek legal advice and support.

  4. Be able to tell the story. If legal action is launched, you need to have a clear paper trail of what was going on. Make sure your managers document, document, document every step. Managers should be honest in their assessments of an employee’s performance and, if there is trouble, straightforward in their reporting. They should know, too, when to involve HR or raise the issue to the executive level.

  5. Invest in corporate compliance training that has been proven effective. The best way to protect your business against unwarranted lawsuits is to ensure your workforce (especially your managers) know how and why to be respectful of others. The best facilitators of these programs are attorneys who are also skilled facilitators and know how to make a dry subject fun and “learn-able.”

Put a smile back on that sad clown’s face by ensuring you have done all you can to provide a safe, fair, respectful workplace for all.

There Should Be No Confusion When It Comes to Corporate Compliance

a graphic of several men confused about which of many roads to take

There should be no doubt or confusion as to how to handle a sexual harassment claim at your organization. The risks are too great… in terms of expensive law suits, company reputation and also the suffering and upset of individuals involved. 

Here is the story of an actual case. 

One day at work Lisa observed an incident where Jim touched another employee inappropriately. Several days later Lisa herself was the victim of Jim’s physical advances. Lisa warned Jim to never touch her again but did not report the harassment because her company’s policy stated that “she had to tell Jim to stop before bringing her complaint to management.”

But Jim did not stop and his next attempt to accost Lisa so upset her that she had to leave work. The next work day, Lisa reported the incident to her supervisor but the supervisor said nothing could be done until the operations manager returned from vacation the following week. Lisa was sent back to work in the same area as Jim. Lisa, so afraid that Jim would assault her again, had a panic attack when someone came up behind her in the supermarket. She took sick leave, started therapy, began anti-anxiety medication and never came back to work.

Management’s response? Jim was suspended with pay for two days despite a written warning in his file for similar behavior in the past.

The ruling? Lisa sued for sexual harassment and was awarded $300,000 plus more than $100,000 in attorneys’ fees.

The company mishandled the case in the following ways:

  • Their harassment prevention policy was unclear and misleading. An employee can always report incidents directly to HR or management
  • They tolerated unwanted touching and physical aggression as “horseplay.”
  • They did not take action in a timely way. Lisa was sent back to her workstation in Jim’s area and management’s investigation of the reports did not begin for two weeks.
  • They did not prepare the required proper written report.
  • Reports of Jim’s previous violations never reached the general manager who doled out Jim’s “punishment” of the two-day suspension.

The bottom line for you and your company? 

Make sure that managers and employees up and down the line undergo corporate compliance training so they know their legal responsibilities when incidents are brought to their attention. And make sure that employees understand their right and obligation to report incidents of harassment. Overall, it is your legal responsibility to foster and maintain a respectful workplace where your employees feel safe.

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Corporate Compliance – How to Handle an Unethical Request

a cartoon business man is breaking through the outline of a traffic sign

The guidelines for compliance are pretty well understood in those companies where rules and regulations are frequently reviewed and cascaded throughout the organization.  And most companies, these days, are unwilling to risk the cost in money and reputation for non-compliance. 

In California, AB 1825 even requires that employers with 50 or more employees provide their managers with a minimum of 2 hours every 2 years of interactive sexual harassment training and education. Responsible corporations work diligently to keep up with and enforce the federal and state laws that govern them.

Employees, in general, typically know what is legal and what is not. Hiring managers typically are taught what interviewing questions can be legally asked and not asked. And financial institutions are tightly restricted by the way they gather and use information.

But what happens when an employee is asked by their boss to break out of what we know are legal limits to do something very sketchy? Do we succumb to positional pressure and assume the “boss knows best”?

Here is what to do according to our corporate compliance experts in the field:

  1. Assume innocenceAssume your boss does not fully realize what they are asking. Either they are unaware of the rules they are asking you to break or they did not think through the risks or consequences involved. Explore the subject further and couch your questions in a way that point out the risks to your boss of such actions.
  2. Share your discomfortLet your boss know of your unease and give them some room to withdraw the request in a way that saves face.
  3. Just say noIt can be difficult to simply refuse to do what your boss asks you to do. But breaking the law was never part of your job description. You should never feel compelled to do something you know is not right.
  4. Consider more drastic next stepsIf your refusal is not accepted and you feel there are negative repercussions, you need to seek help to protect your own interests. Consider talking to your boss’ superior and Human Resources. You should get the request and your refusal documented. HR should be able to advise you on legal recourse if such action is necessary. Depending upon the nature of the original request, you may even need to go outside the company to get support.

Corporate Compliance: Are You Asking Legal Interview Questions?

The word "right" is balanced against the word "wrong"

Corporate compliance is a field chock full of volumes of rules and regulations that govern fairness and legality in the workplace. Most of these regulations are covered in text that is in black and white and can be referenced easily. But there are also a lot of gray areas, and here is where the problems lie in wait.

One of these gray areas has to do with the process of interviewing potential new hires…what questions are legally defensible and which are not. And the consequences of asking a “wrong” question can leave your company liable for a lawsuit by a job candidate who feels they were unfairly discriminated against. This is not the kind of publicity or risk you want!

Just so you know how prevalent this problem is…a Harris poll released in 2015 of over 2,000 hiring managers revealed that one in five admitted to unknowingly asking an illegal question. That is too high a percentage for businesses to take such a risk.  Sadly, a recent client paid a candidate $85,000 for an uneducated hiring manager asking about their age and marital status.  And they got off lucky.  The average employee lawsuit costs $250,000 and the majority of cases are ruled in the plaintiff’s favor when taken to litigation.

What can you do to effectively educate your hiring managers on the kinds of questions they can legally ask to properly mitigate your risk? By providing proven, interactive corporate compliance training conducted by engaging facilitators who have actually worked as attorneys. The cost will be far less than the financial and reputation-scarring costs of a lawsuit.

Did you know that the following subjects are off limits legally in an interview session? Besides the obviously taboo questions about race or religion or political affiliation, you cannot ask questions about:
Plans for having children
Marital status
Whether or not a candidate uses tobacco products or alcohol

And to complicate things further, it can be the way you ask the question that tips it from a question that is “right” to a question that is “wrong.”  For instance, you can ask if a candidate is “legally eligible for employment in the U.S.” But you cannot ask more directly about where a candidate was born or their citizenship status.

Smart HR leaders protect their company by providing hiring staff with the corporate compliance training they need to stay out of court. You will sleep better at night knowing your interviewers have learned how to be legally smart about what and how they ask.

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