Legal issues in the Workplace

Essay by shlazzUniversity, Bachelor'sA, February 2010

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IntroductionFund administrators, directors and managers should keep abreast of the evolving employment laws that affect their employees. Most notably, antidiscrimination laws require all employers, including benefit funds, to create and maintain bias-free workplaces. Laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act of 2003 require that employers provide leaves of absence for employees for family health care. Also, recent Supreme Court cases on sexual harassment have elaborated on the circumstances under which an employer can be held liable for sexual harassment by an immediate (or successively higher) supervisor. These laws affect most employers and benefit funds. Employers of unionized workplaces are equally bound by these laws and also may be required to bargain collectively over the implementation of certain measures to comply with the employment laws.

Sexual HarassmentAwareness of sexual harassment in the workplace has reached unprecedented levels as current events have made sexual harassment a common topic in the U.S.

news. According to an EEOC report released in 2008, sexual harassment charges have more than doubled in recent years, going from 6,883 in 2001 to 15,889 in 2007. Also, monetary damages awarded in such cases have grown larger each year. (Martin, 2005)Throughout the last decade, there has been a tremendous increase in the number of sexual harassment lawsuits. During this period, courts have recognized that employees may sue for sexual harassment not only where a supervisor conditions employment-related benefits or bases personnel decisions on an employee's submission to sexual overtures, but also where the employee is subjected to offensive, sexually related conduct that is continuous and pervasive. (Stalk & Hout, 2000)Employers frequently are held liable for acts of harassment committed in the workplace when they are not aware that such acts are taking place. For that reason, accompanying the growth of sexual harassment lawsuits have been increased efforts by...