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Monday, January 4, 2010

Top 10 Best HR Practices for 2010

By: Tommy Eden, Attorney

1. Upgrade your Harassment Prevention, Training and Investigative Program. After making sure you have the basic policy and forms in place, be mindful that recent EEOC decisions indicate that failure to conduct a prompt and proper investigation, or retaliation, may be may be fatal to your bottom line.

2. Draft or Update ADA-compliant Job Descriptions. These documents should serve as the foundation for all effective and defensible decisions involving hiring, performance evaluation, discipline, wage and hour status, promotions, return to duty, FMLA, reasonable accommodations and discharge.

3. Implement an Effective and Defensible Interviewing and Hiring Process. Dealing with the “bad hire” can be an expensive nightmare, but turnover is an expense you can control. Remember that past behavior is the best indication of future performance. A “gut feeling” is rarely defensible.

4. Employee Handbooks and Forms should be submitted for a compliance review every two years. Having the right policies and forms (application to separation, drug testing, FMLA, texting, reduction in staff, etc) to deal with employee misconduct, and provide government-mandated notices, are critical to your overall risk reduction program. PDF technology has made it more cost effective to electronically update and distribute your handbook and forms.

5. Implement an Effective and Defensible Discipline and Termination Process. Supervisory coaching on handling difficult employees has proven to be a good risk reduction investment. Not using an Alabama termination process checklist is playing Russian roulette where a jury keeps the score. Also, recognize how and when to use staged payment severance agreements to cut off your liability when you smell trouble.

6. Audit Wage and Hour Classifications for Legal Compliance. With the new FLSA enforcement initiatives, and the multitude of misclassification lawsuits around the country, this is a wise risk reduction strategy.

7. Conduct Performance Evaluation Supervisory Training. Grade inflation is a real risk that can come back to haunt you when an employee is terminated and the EEOC, or a jury questions, the decision in light of a 5 star evaluation. Train your supervisors how to effectively conduct these evaluations with a human touch.

8. Training, Training, and More Training. Effective supervisory training on hiring, discipline, harassment prevention, coaching employees, FMLA, litigation prevention, etc., is a must. Jury surveys continue to find that a company that fails to train is negligent.

9. COBRA Stimulus Extension Election Notice regulations require extensive revision of all your notice and election forms.

10. Diversity Training is not only helpful in creating a team-oriented environment; it is a good risk reduction strategy. Using training that can be replicated in the courtroom is sometimes the best way to display your good faith efforts to prevent discrimination in the workplace.

Tommy Eden is a Lee County native, an attorney with the local office of Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at or 334-246-2901. Blog at