Compliance with legal and regulatory requirements is crucial for any organization. These laws include providing equal opportunities to employees, preventing sexual harassment and providing safe working conditions as stipulated by the safety requirements. Failure to comply with the legal, safety, and regulatory requirements may lead to penalties from the state, lawsuits from employees, or complaints from other relevant stakeholders, such as trade unions. Furthermore, failure to comply with the legal, safety, and regulatory requirements may tarnish the image of the organization which may, in turn, have damaging effects on the company’s operation. This study examines the impact of legal, safety and regulatory requirements to the HR dynamics of a firm.
In the U.S, the frameworks of HR are delineated by the state-federal acts, rules, laws, and regulations relating to employment issues. It is critical for HR to adhere to the frameworks stipulated not only for the benefit of the organization but also to ensure that their operations align with their corporate mission and objectives (DOL, 2017). In many firms, the department in charge of ensuring that no discrimination occurs and that everyone experiences equal opportunity is the human resource department. The U.S Department of Labor administers the (OSH) Act. The act sets standards for regular inspection to ensure employees are safe and healthy. OSHA standards may require that employers take up certain practices. For instance, the employers have to make sure that the workplace is free from hazards. Also, employers are mandated to provide safety equipment adequately and should be trained in using the equipment (DOL, 2017). Failure to comply with the (OSH) Act can lead to legal penalties for the company.
The laws stipulated by the state have resulted in the replacement of common sense and compassion by litigation. Litigation in the workplace has become the norm. This commonality is due to the complexities arising from the ever increasing laws, regulations, and strong changes in the employment laws. For example, the EEOC enforces federal laws that illegalize discrimination against any individual based on their age, sex, ethnicity, religion or national origin (Whitten, 2017). Recently, the laws were revised to include new approaches to workplace harassment. The new changes introduced a broader description concerning sexual orientation. The new guidelines protected Title VII to include “individual’s transgender status or the person’s intent to transition,” “gender identity and sexual orientation” (Whitten, 2017). The new laws went further to state that sexual harassment includes “using a name or pronoun inconsistent with the individual’s gender identity in a persistent or offensive manner.” However, the new changes have been criticized as being unfounded and not supported by case law. The new changes add the pressure of firms to have policy guidelines that touch on sexual orientation and gender identity. The increasing complexities presented by the legislation and regulations do not promote compassion and common sense in the organization. Rather, these complexities support litigation.
Litigation refers to the legal cases presented as a result of the violation of the stipulated war. In a recent research, it was estimated that 40% of the private sector claims were based on sexual harassment (Whitten, 2017). Litigations have increased steadily. In 2016, the agency resolved 97,443 cases including an increase in LGBT charges (EEOC, 2017). The present-day workplace has too many policies, rules, and regulations that common sense is no longer the overriding factor. Most human resource departments develop their policies to reflect the requirements of the laws. Therefore, it is the fear of the legal process that promotes compliance rather than common sense and compassion.
The organizational environment is made up of people. Therefore, disagreements, conflicts, and misunderstandings are likely to happen. Whereas the HR department acts as an advocate for the creation of an atmosphere that promotes equality and adheres to the safety, and legal requirements, problems such as denial of employee rights, mistreatment, sexual harassment, and safety issues are bound to occur. These problems may occur intentionally, accidentally, or inadvertently leading to legal conflicts. Gilbert (2010) posits that the societal acceptance of lawsuits has created an avenue where people file legal claims as fast as they can without trying to solve the issue in the company. According to Gilbert, individuals in the modern environment lack the support structure to help them develop healthy relationships or to help them cope with equality issues. The new workplace environment is more hostile than ever, with employees facing issues such as downsizing, volatile economies, mergers, and instability. Gilbert (2010) argues that increased litigation in the workplace is not the outcome of clear-cut violations of law but is as a result of the heightened emotions arising from the tough economic times.
I support the statement that litigation has replaced common sense and compassion. Common sense has been replaced by the fear of failure to comply. Employees also are quick to file lawsuits in the event of any incident or disagreement. This new hostile environment has proven costly for companies. As a result, there is a need for management to promote compassion in the firm so that the employees feel that they are valued, and respected regardless of their background or sexual orientation.
- Department of Labor: DOL (2017). Safety and health standards: Occupational safety and health.
- EEOC (2017). EEOC releases fiscal year 2016 enforcement and litigation data.
- Gilbert, L. (2010). Reducing the litigious climate in organizations. J. Alt. Disp. Resol., 1, 63.
- Whitten, T. E. (2017). EEOC orientation-bias guidance stirs controversy among commentators.