With 2020 quickly coming to an end after an unforgettable and unprecedented amount of events, we are ready to look at what changes we expect to take place in 2021. We are also ready to determine how any change can have a potential impact on employees and employers.
Every year, businesses and organizations struggle to stay on top of the latest employer regulations and the current workplace issues. Unfortunately, 2020 has been no different. Local laws, state laws, and federal laws are not staying the same, and social issues continue to impact the workforce and the entire world.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission(EEOC)’s Strategic Enforcement Plan extends through the year 2021. This plan outlines all of its priorities for the upcoming year. In this plan, one of the key areas that was focused on is the emerging and trending workplace issues. Workplace issues continue to be a major topic of discussion, and this topic can be difficult to discuss.
Developing A Diversity Strategy
For an extended period of time, diversity was only viewed as a compliance requirement, entailing a particular ethical outlook for businesses and organizations. It is not uncommon to locate business models, vision statements, or mission statements that detail how a particular business or organization will make an effort to remain diverse.
Unfortunately, the details in those statements can be indefinable. Many businesses and organizations do not willingly give proof that there are actual efforts to remain diverse. Moving forward to 2021, we hope to see more businesses and organizations accepting diversity and incorporating it into their business strategies and business models.
Workplace Issue Trends
As some businesses and organizations make the efforts to develop diversity strategies, there are some trends that we expect to continue through 2021. From accommodations to discriminatory practices, workplace complaints can be aligned with civil issues that continue to be under the bright lights. As we prepare for a new year, there are some areas employers and employees will need to watch closely.
Discrimination and Harassment
The domain of employment discrimination law has been at the center of many controversies for decades. The events we have experienced in 2020 have proven to be no exception. Whether the concerns were centered around freedom, religion, age, disability, or LGBTQ discrimination, employment discrimination carries has continued to carry some of the hottest issues.
Due to the fear of being discriminated against, many are determining that their chances of obtaining employment will be better if they do not disclose certain type of information, including a disability or their sexual orientation.
One of the priorities for businesses and organizations, regardless of size or industry, should be preventing discrimination and harassment. Some states are improving employee protections against harassment and discrimination. Some states are also implementing laws that can ultimately increase protections from employees.
Some states are also updating the laws around non-compete agreements. Non-compete agreements are a part of an employment contract that will seek to limit an individual’s capacity to seek and obtain work for a competitor for a fixed time period. Non-compete agreements will begin when an employee chooses to leave the workplace or is terminated.
Businesses and organizations will generally enact this type of agreement in order to protect in-house secrets. States are amending laws around these agreements. Currently, Minnesota employers can still utilize these types of agreements. However, this could change in the future and it is important to have a clear understanding of the non-compete agreements and there current position.
Lately, there has been a growing focus on retaliation. This means that employers will need to be careful to avoid having claims filed based on retaliation charges. Employers will need to have policies that make it clear that no retaliatory actions will be made against anyone who is a whistleblower or anyone who makes a discrimination or harassment claim.
Even if a discrimination complaint is not found to have any basis, a business or organization can still be found guilty of participating in retaliatory acts. A court can effectively dismiss a claim against discrimination or harassment while allowing a retaliation claim to continue, especially if the employee is able to prove that the retaliatory actions took place because the employee was exercising his or her rights.
There needs to be an understanding that retaliation is not acceptable. Proper job training and workplace policies should provide clarity on where a business or organization stands on discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. An act of retaliation can be anything that has an impact on an individual’s work and responsibilities.
While the EEOC provides tools and resources, many employers are not clear on how employment laws and regulations can be interpreted and how they can be applied. It is important for employees and employers to be able to safely navigate through the current and emerging trends that are taking place in workplaces.
It will be recommended to partner with legal professionals, HR experts, Professional Employer Organizations(PEO) and more who will be able to help decrease or eliminate workplace issues. As the workplace trends shift towards states attempting to keep up with employment law changes, compliance will continue to be compliance.
It is important for all sides to take the proper steps to ensure the employment laws are clear. In 2021, diversity and inclusion will become more serious and steps to enable it may become more challenging. While we are progressing in the right direction, it is time to push this momentum even further.
While many businesses and organizations are making positive changes, the pace of inclusion has not reached the point it should be. This is one of the reasons why we recommend that you remain alert and aware of the workplace trends and issues, especially as it relates to diversity and inclusion. For more information on workplace trends and issues in relation to employment law, please do not hesitate to contact Villaume & Schiek today.
Call us at 952-641-7734 to learn how our attorneys can help you with any workplace concerns and complaints you may have.
Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.