HR ethics are important to organizations as they can have legal and moral implications. In this assignment, you will develop a plan to resolve some of the ethical and legal issues involved in a merger.

Assignment 2: Required Assignment 1—Ethical and Legal Issues

 

HR ethics are important to organizations as they can have legal and moral implications. In this assignment, you will develop a plan to resolve some of the ethical and legal issues involved in a merger. Use the Argosy University online library and textbooks to read about ethical and legal issues.

 

Consider the following scenario:

 As part of the employment contracts, employees have certain rights. For example, employees have the right to not be coerced into situations against their will. They expect to be able to access the information, which affects their job, company, and career. Such work situations can increase stress, lower self-esteem and productivity, cause loss of trust, and decrease efficiency.Good employees who are looking for a more secure work environment may resign and take valuable tacit knowledge and talent with them. It is the responsibility of HR management to create an ethical work environment before, during, and after the merger. 

Instructions:

 

As a strategic HR Director, you have been asked to identify ethical and legal issues involved in a merger and develop a plan to resolve these issues. Your plan should address the following:

 

  • Identify specific legal and ethical issues that should be considered before, during, and after the merger.
  • Develop an implementation plan for managing the potential legal and ethical concerns for the merger.
  • Explain how the proposed plan would help managers establish an ethical work environment.
  • Develop a plan for how to resolve ethical and legal issues.

Write a five-to-six-page plan in Word format. Apply APA standards to citation of sources. Use the following file naming convention: LastnameFirstInitial_M3_A2.do

 

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Assignment 2 Grading Criteria Maximum Points

Identified specific, relevant, and logical ethical issues that could be impacted by merger activities.

Identified specific, relevant, and logical legal issues that could be impacted by merger activities.

Provided a detailed and realistic explanation for how the proposed plan would contribute to ethical work environment.

Developed a clear, concise, realistic, and feasible plan that includes specific details about sound, logical ideas for resolving the ethical and legal issues presented.

Wrote in a clear, concise, and organized manner; demonstrated ethical scholarship in accurate representation and attribution of sources; and displayed accurate spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Total: 200

Civil rights laws are federal statutes designed to protect races and/or classes from behaviors (such as discrimination or harassment) or barriers (such as systemic roadblocks to advancement or physical access limitations) defined in the statutes and acts. HR managers should be knowledgeable about such statutes and acts and should consider the myriad provisions of these laws while designing the HR strategy. Here are some highlights.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination against employees on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin” and applies to virtually all businesses in the U.S. except for those with fewer than 15 employees. This act established the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws for employees as well as job applicants.

While violations can often be resolved through mediation overseen by an EEOC representative, unresolved cases can go to litigation and become extremely costly. Proper treatment of candidates and employees, complete documentation of the hiring process, and ongoing maintenance of personnel records can be significant factors in the prevention of violations, which can cost organizations time, money, and their reputation.

You can learn more about this act and the EEOC at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/titlevii.cfm.

This image provides a hyperlink to access more information about the No-Cost Federal Outreach programs.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects workers over 40 from discrimination in terms of hiring, firing, pay, promotions, or layoffs, and applies to businesses with 20 or more employees. Those who feel they have experienced such discrimination must file an EEOC claim within 180 days. You can find more information about this act at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/age.cfm.

Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008

Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) prohibits employers from using genetic information to discriminate against employees or job applicants. While it may seem that genetic information would be protected under certain privacy laws, there are legitimate ways that an employer may become aware of such information (overhearing a conversation or acquiring DNA data due to the nature of certain law enforcement jobs). Even if an employer possesses such genetic information, the company cannot use it in making employment decisions. You can learn more about GINA at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/genetic.cfm.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

The Americans with Disability Act of 1990 (ADA) is enforced by the EEOC and prohibits discrimination of employees or job applicants with disabilities in the workplace. The law prohibits harassment of those with disabilities and requires employers to provide reasonable accommodation to help a disabled person perform job duties unless such accommodation provides undue hardship to the employer.

While the ADA does provide definitions for “reasonable” and “undue hardship,” what is reasonable varies among different employers. Undue hardship for a small employer is likely different from undue hardship for a large employer. This leaves plenty of room for various interpretations, resulting in complications in practice.

You can find more information about the ADA at http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/disability.cfm.

Health and Safety (OSHA)

The Occupation Safety and Health Act of 1970 established the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) within the Department of Labor. OSHA’s mission is to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, outreach, education and assistance” (U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, n.d.). OSHA has legal authority through the government legislative process to promote employee health and safety in the workplace and also provide “whistleblower” protections for workers who report unsafe working conditions.

It is easy to envision safety issues in heavy industry where workers can be exposed to molten steel, toxic chemicals, lasers, asbestos, under-ventilated mines or hot rivets at a skyscraper construction site. But, office workers can also be exposed to safety issues such as unsecured file cabinets, computer cables taped across thresholds, wet floors, or icy sidewalks. There are also physical health risks associated with repetitive stress injuries, back strain, and air quality that many offices regularly face.

HR strategy should consider and HR managers must be knowledgeable about such safety regulations since these statutes and acts may have a bearing on HR policy and procedures. Employee injuries and even death are undesirable outcomes to say the least. Aside from moral and ethical concerns and the impact to morale, there are significant fines and legal ramifications for ignoring safety issues.

You can learn more about OSHA at

http://www.osha.gov/

.

Equal Pay Laws (Fair Labor Standards Act)

Equal pay laws include federal statutes designed to provide protection from illegal pay practices defined in the statutes and acts. Here are some highlights:

· The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) initially established the maximum number of hours in a workweek and a minimum hourly wage as well as established overtime pay for certain jobs and limits on child labor. The act has been amended over the years to increase the minimum wage, lower the maximum number of hours in a workweek, and establish equal pay provisions for women.

· The Equal Pay Act of 1963 makes it illegal to pay women less than men for the same job.

· The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act of 1983 includes provisions about wages and working conditions for migrant farm workers.

HR strategy should consider and HR managers must be knowledgeable about such statutes and acts since they have bearing on HR policy and procedures.

These acts are administered by the Department of Labor. Just as with other federal statues we have discussed so far, failure to comply with these regulations can often result in legal action which can involve back pay from the time of the infraction. You can learn more about the fair labor regulations at http://www.dol.gov/whd/flsa/.

Equal Pay for Women

There is an ongoing debate over the issues of equal pay for women. Advocates for additional legislation argue that a pay gap exists between what men and women can earn over their working lifetimes. Opponents argue that the lifetime disparity has more to do with women taking time off (sometimes for many years) to raise families, care for elderly parents, or pursue other interests. A recent development was the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 which addresses the 180-day filing limit of a complaint. The new law amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act and other related statutes to state that the 180-day filing limit resets with each paycheck that has been subject to unequal pay discrimination. As such, women, such as Lilly Ledbetter, who discover that they have been unfairly paid for years, can still find a remedy even though they did not file a complaint within the 180-day filing limit of the initial unequal paycheck.

In the specific lawsuit initiated by Lilly Ledbetter under the 1964 Civil Rights Act, she claimed that she only discovered her pay inequity shortly before her retirement, which is why she did not file a complaint within the initial 180-day period following the first paycheck in question, some 20 years earlier. The Supreme Court eventually ruled against her in 2007 because the statute clearly stated the 180-day limitation. The new law establishes a revised time limitation indicating that the 180-day limitation is not limited to the initial unfair paycheck, but essentially to the most recent one. In other words, if a woman discovers that she has been unfairly paid over a long period of time, she can still file a complaint within 180 days of her most recent “unfair” paycheck. It may be worth pointing out that Ms. Ledbetter was never able to obtain back pay or damages because of the Supreme Court ruling in 2007. But, her continuing efforts on this issue resulted in Congress changing this single provision which removes a barrier to women seeking equal pay. You can access the statute at http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/111/s181/text.

FMLA
Another act administered by the Department of Labor is the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), which entitles eligible employees defined in the law to unpaid job-protected leave for specific reasons including the following circumstances:

· The birth or adoption of a child

· The care of a family member with a serious health condition

· The care of oneself due to a serious health condition

· A qualifying emergency

Employees covered under this law and approved for such unpaid leave cannot be removed from their jobs during the leave. The FMLA also includes other provisions such as break time for nursing mothers and special rules for returning military reservists.

HR strategy should consider and HR managers must be knowledgeable about FMLA provisions in order to fairly administer the law and comply with its detailed provisions.

You can access news and information about compliance at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/ca_main.htm.

You can access the text of the law at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/statutes/fmla.htm.

Labor Relations Laws

The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (also known as the Wagner Act) protects private sector workers as they engage in collective bargaining or engage in work stoppages such as strikes. The act also established the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as an independent agency responsible for conducting labor union elections and investigating claims of unfair labor practices. The NLRB also facilitates settlements, adjudicates specific cases, and enforces its orders through the US Court of Appeals when voluntary compliance does not occur.

Labor unions have a long history in the U.S. and were initially focused on large industries such as steel, mining, railways, automotive and other manufacturing, and longshoremen. There are also unions for communications workers, teachers, musicians, professional athletes, health workers, electricians, carpenters, actors, and public employees. Union negotiated contracts not only focus on wages and benefits, but also on working conditions and practices. In most cases, negotiated improvements in benefits and other working conditions are extended to non-unionized employees as well.

HR managers in organizations that include union members must be fully aware of fair labor laws and all aspects of the negotiated contracts especially as they apply to HR policy and procedures. But, even those organizations that do not include union members must be aware of both employer and employee rights and responsibilities if there is an attempt to organize employees.

You can learn more about the National Labor Relations Act and the NLRB at http://www.nlrb.gov/.

State and Local Laws

So far, we have examined important federal employment laws. However, each state and many municipalities also have employment laws. State and local regulations cannot supersede federal law, but they can clarify or further constrain the resolution of a case or complaint. Additionally, state and local laws can vary widely, which adds additional complications to those employers with locations in multiple cities or states. Consider these examples:

· Some states and local municipalities impose income taxes, which require employers to maintain careful records so that taxes are deducted from applicable income.

· Some states have a “right to work” law, which means that employees are not required to join a union in order to be hired.

· Some states have unique safety and labor laws that add conditions to federal employment laws.

· Some states have alternative dispute resolution choices for labor negotiations that add to federal employment laws.

The Department of Labor provides links to state labor offices as well as to a variety of state fair labor practices at http://www.dol.gov/whd/state/state.htm. For example, you can display summaries as to how various states regulate child entertainment occupations or door-to-door sales by minors.

International laws may also have a bearing on the HR strategy with an increasing number of employers choosing to operate internationally as well as nationally. Laws in various countries can differ drastically and present additional challenges and responsibilities to those charged with compliance. Because of these layers of complexity, employers often find compliance difficult. A lack of awareness, constant changes, variability in interpretation, and lack of clarity can all contribute to noncompliance, subjecting employers to penalties.

The first step in avoiding these issues is to develop an awareness of relevant federal, state, local, and even international laws to determine how such laws affect your HR policies and procedures. This is followed by the process of identifying resources and maintaining current knowledge of the laws and their interpretation.

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