As a business owner in 2019, a thousand things are running through your mind at all times during the day. Legal matters are probably somewhere at the bottom of that list. However, legal issues are something that you as an employer should be aware of at all times.
Legal issues are critical in the grand scheme of things. They possess the ability to destroy all the hard work you have put into your company’s success. Making a legal mistake will shut down your business in the blink of an eye.
The most significant legal battles to watch in 2019 will vary slightly from what the top issues in 2018, but taking a look back at the past year can give us some clarity on the subject. Here are four legal issues to check for and monitor in your business.
Use of Social Media
Social media is crucial to almost everyone in our society. Nearly 68% of Americans have a Facebook account. To say that Instagram filters and hashtags dominate our age of technology would be an understatement. Businesses are checking up on their employees’ social media pages regularly these days, and your company should be no different.
With social media comes great responsibility. We recommend that you establish clear regulations for your employees to follow, and also educate them on what professional social media accounts should contain. Here are some thoughts to communicate to your employees:
Staying professional (no name calling, heated debates, etc.)
Posting 18+ content
Talking about competitors
Negative comments about the business
Now, this is where you have to be very careful. It is illegal for you to infringe upon a worker’s right to voice their opinions on wages or working conditions. They have the right to free-speech. When your company draws up regulations for social media, keep these points in mind.
Marijuana in the Workplace
Marijuana use in the business environment was not a problem in the past, but as the drug’s users grow, so does the difficulty of regulating it in the office. More and more states are legalizing the drug for commercial use. Your business needs to draft a statement on Marijuana in the workplace.
There are also states that protect employees from being discriminated against for using marijuana. Knowing these laws is key to avoiding a nasty lawsuit. Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, and Rhode Island all have laws on this discriminatory principle. This law does not allow a manager to fire an employee who fails a drug test due to traces of Marijuana.
At the same point, smoking marijuana in the workplace can inhibit productivity as well as distract other employees from their tasks. Marijuana should only be used if necessary for medicinal purposes.
Immigration and Workplace Visas
According to CBS, there are approximately 8 million illegal immigrants in the workforce today. These numbers hit nearly 10% of working people in border states such as Texas and California. The attractiveness of hiring illegal immigrants for business owners is due to the low wages that can entice them.
Hiring illegal immigrants should never be considered as a viable option. You should be familiar with the I-9 form, and it’s identification purposes. The legal trouble that illegal immigrant workers bring upon your business is not worth it.
Sexual harassment allegations in the workplace
2018 was the year of the #MeToo movement. The last thing you want in your business is sexual harassment. Harassment can be prevented by correctly training your employees to see problems and report them.
It also helps to have a strict, written code on the topic. Harassment is one of the quickest ways for your business to lose credibility in 2019. If you have experienced allegations in the past, it’s a good idea to get rid of employees who cross this boundary. Holding onto them after such a sizable mistake can damage your business.
All that aside it should be your goal to create a safe work environment for all of your employees whether they be male or female. If your workers do not feel safe, you can kiss productivity goodbye.
These are some of the most significant legal problems that employers should monitor in their businesses. Laws constantly change. Make sure your company is on top of the changes that US policy-makers are regularly enforcing. These policies are topics that would be important to include in business meetings once or twice a year. It never hurts to stay on top of legal matters.
Stay aware, and save your company from a legal meltdown by doing three things: craft strict, legal policies, communicate those policies to your subordinates, enforce those regulations when they are broken. Explaining these policies will help your business stay safe and productive without worry of legal trouble.