Human resources play a central role in the success of any organization. It follows then that the process of managing these human resources is extremely crucial to any given firm. Numerous factors need careful consideration when tackling these issues. It is expected that the organization knows precisely what it looks for when hiring human resources and hence should develop its own way of recruiting such people. It is expected that common sense prevails in such a scenario. This, however, is not the case. Companies are bound by law at federal, state and local levels to adhere to stipulated rules while hiring and conducting staffing. Such rules originate from the Civil Rights Act of 1964; title VII, which abolishes discriminatory hiring. Sensitive areas that managers need knowledge about include equal opportunity, sexual harassment and the affirmative action.
Law against discrimination, based on age, race or gender, protects employees falling under the Equal Employment Opportunity. Such people are called the protected class. Federal laws advance the following characteristics for protection.
- Race, origin or ethnic affiliation and skin complexion for example African American, Hispanic, Asian etc.
- Gender, specifically women including pregnant ones
- Disabled, both mental and physical
- Age especially above 40 years
- Military experience such as Vietnam-era veterans
These EEO laws ensure that everyone equal job opportunity and equal promotion at work. Whereas EEO laws ensure equal opportunity at work, employers need to consider the Affirmative Action that requires them to go an extra mile and hire individuals belonging to a protected group. Affirmative action involves taking specific actions to eliminate past discriminations (Kleynhans, 2006).
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also protects employees. EEOC’s scope has expanded and carries major enforcement authorities for laws like:
- Civil Rights Act of 1964, that prohibits racial, origin, sex, religion and colour discrimination
- Civil Rights of 1991 that emphasizes prohibition of discrimination and allows individuals to sue for disciplinary damage in instances of premeditated discrimination.
- Equal Pay Act of 1963 that discourages different pay for equal job for different sex individuals
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which illegalises dismissal and discrimination of women just because they are pregnant. In addition, it protects job security during maternity leave.
- American with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination against people with physical and or mental disabilities or chronic illness. This law demands that reasonable accommodations be extended to such people. Employers in the United States are bound by law comply with these regulations (Cliff Notes, 2012).
Strict laws have been advanced to curb sexual harassment in the work environment. Sexual harassment raises concern as it intimidates employees, exposes organizations to liability as well as interferes with job performance. Law demands that organizations respond timely to sexual harassment complaints. The law further allows sexual harassment victims to go to court and seek compensation in cases where the employer was malicious or reckless towards employee’s rights. The law further directs all firms to have a sexual harassment policy statement indicating the organization’s stand on this matter (DHS Federal Register Publications, 2004).
The Department of Homeland Security developed The Homeland Security Act of 2002 that aimed at establishing a new Human Resource system that was in accordance with the state requirements. This new system included systems governing basic pay, classification, labour relations, performance management, disciplinary actions and employee appeals. All these were structured so that they actively involved employee representatives at every stage. Employee discrimination was the key matter being addressed by these structural changes. The new HR system developed at DHS is flexible and supports the agency’s primary mission of protecting all Americans from terrorist attacks without compromising the rights of the employees (Kleynhans, 2006).
It is thus clear that human resource management is bind by law to adhere to specific set requirements. Every company needs to comply with these regulations. Managers no longer have the freedom to conduct recruitments the way they want but are duty bound to align their recruitment procedures with the demands of the legislation.
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