Are Newly Promoted Supervisors Leaving You Open to a Lawsuit?

Are you certain your new managers and supervisors fully understand the laws that govern your business and the people relations within it?

If not, you’re leaving yourself wide open to a lawsuit and more importantly, you’re not allowing your business to thrive in the way that it could.

In general, new managers and supervisors fall prey to two different types of common pitfalls. They typically don’t understand the legal side of their new responsibilities and often lack the necessary soft skills, such as communication, that leadership requires.

There are 3 big legal issues supervisors tend to get trapped in.

1. They don’t understand the Family Medical Leave Act. I often see that managers don’t understand if they’re required to give family medical leave and, if they are, what it really means.

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a United States federal law requiring covered employers to provide employees job-protected and unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons, up to 12 weeks within a 12-month period. Medical leave doesn’t have to be 12 weeks all at once; it can be intermittent.

For example, say a pregnant woman experiences complications and needs to take time off to go for testing or perhaps a little bedrest before delivery, but is able to come back to work. Of course, after she delivers she’ll also have time off.

In this scenario, the time for the FMLA isn’t one continuous span. Under the law, it can be in spits and fits going along! This woman has certain rights and managers often don’t understand that they need to accommodate those rights.

2. They don’t understand the Americans with Disabilities Act. This law, like the Family Medical Leave Act, is commonly misunderstood. Most supervisors don’t understand that they may need to accommodate someone’s disability if doing so will help someone perform job tasks.

For example, say a man is on a fifty-pound weight-lifting restriction. He’s applying for a job that would require him to lift seventy pounds once or twice per day. Some managers would automatically say that he isn’t qualified for the position.

But under this act, the ability to lift seventy pounds only once or twice per day is a minor job requirement. Management may have to accommodate him by removing that job duty from the list.

3. Managers and supervisors are uneducated about workplace discrimination. Discrimination in the workplace covers many different areas, but one big area is gender-based discrimination.

Many supervisors still think that sexual harassment takes the form of an old boss chasing his secretary around the desk. But today’s sexual harassment is a lot subtler than that.

And, we find that 30% of all sexual harassment cases are being reported by men. When I talk to new supervisors, they’re in disbelief that men would file a sexual harassment claim. Part of the problem is they need to recognize that anyone can be harassed or discriminated against.

Not taking employee complaints seriously when they say they’re being treated unfairly, picked on, or harassed is a huge red flag. When I ask supervisors why they don’t act, they usually say it’s because they don’t know what to do.

Then they end up saying something stupid like “Man up” or “Tough it out” which, well, you can guess how well that goes over. It just adds gas to the fire!

Resolution of these legal issues starts at the company level with training.

Often, new supervisors are promoted because they were the best widget maker and the company needs a widget-making supervisor. That sounds logical until you look further and realize that the skills needed to be an effective leader are very different skills than those needed to assemble widgets.

This is why the company must provide training to new supervisors on the legal side as well as concepts such as time management, project management, and employee relations. We do new supervisors a disservice if we don’t train them in their new job roles.

No organization can thrive without strong leadership at each level of the organization. If the leaders fail, the employees will fail as well. Where will that leave your business?

If your management team doesn’t fully understand the laws surrounding your business, you’re leaving yourself open to a lawsuit as well as other issues.

But don’t worry, TurboExecs can help!

Contact me here to find out how I can help you train supervisors proactively, so they can handle things like workplace harassment before a lawsuit happens. If you’re already struggling with compliance issues, TurboExecs can help facilitate discussions to bring resolution before things get too out of control.

Next month, I’ll be sharing the 2 other common pitfalls new managers and supervisors fall prey to. Stay tuned!

Successfully yours,

P.S. If your management team doesn’t fully understand the laws surrounding your business and the people in it, contact me here to find out how TurboExecs can help with training and facilitating conflict resolution before things get too out of control!