Retaliation

Staffing Firms: Preventing Retaliation Claims

Staffing agencies serve as the conduit between employers and employees. As such, they face a complex landscape of regulatory requirements, including laws that govern employment practices. Employment practices are a hot-button issue, particularly in regard to discrimination in the workplace. Claims of employees being retaliated against by employers are on the rise in the United States, triggering a corresponding increase in claims on staffing firm insurance policies. In this guide, we will explore the role of staffing firm insurance and present ways to mitigate the risks associated with employee retaliation claims.

Employment Retaliation Claims on the Rise

Employees who believe they are being discriminated against in the workplace often complain to their employers or staffing agencies. These complaints often lead to claims of employer retaliation filed with state and federal authorities. These claims are on the rise and have exhibited a sharp increase over the past decade. Of the 72,675 discrimination claims filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2019, just over 39,000 were related to employer discrimination. That figure represents over half of all discrimination claims filed with the agency.

What is Employer Retaliation?

If an employee complains about certain workplace practices, such as unlawful discrimination based on sex, orientation, or race, they are protected by federal and state laws against retaliation. Unfortunately, employers may violate these protective laws either inadvertently or on purpose. In simple terms, employer retaliation is the practice by which employees who complain about workplace discrimination are penalized for filing a complaint or for participating in investigations of discrimination. Retaliation can take several forms, including:

  • Negative performance reviews
  • Undesired transfers to other positions or workplaces
  • Demotions
  • Harassment or mistreatment by supervisors and coworkers
  • Termination of employment

When a worker believes he or she has experienced workplace discrimination and is being retaliated against for filing a complaint, this can create an emotionally-charged situation. Staffing firms are often caught in the middle, potentially opening the door to expensive liability claims.

Preventing Claims of Retaliation

Staffing firm insurance is the foundation of risk management for employment staffing and placement agencies. When it comes to preventing claims of employee retaliation, staffing agencies must adopt rigorous procedures to support the protections of their insurance policies. These procedures must include:

  • Supporting documentation – staffing firms must thoroughly document any incidents that lead to an employee’s demotion or termination. Documentation must include information regarding timing, whether a complaint was filed, and whether the demotion or termination was otherwise justified.
  • Education of employer clients – staffing agencies and their clients must work in close concert with one another, particularly in regards to handling temporary or contracted employees who may not be performing up to standards. Educating clients through the use of feedback is critical; clients must be prepared to share information about expectations and employee performance, and the staffing agency must ask for this feedback as well.
  • Third-party assistance – employment law is a complex and ever-changing aspect of the modern business world. Employers and staffing agencies alike may become overwhelmed with the myriad regulations governing employment practices. It is a good idea to establish a relationship with an employment attorney as well as to alert staffing firm insurance carriers whenever retaliation claims are filed.

Staffing agencies and employers facing claims of workplace discrimination and/or retaliation must also set policies to manage their risk exposures, especially during investigations. Policies can include:

  • Establishment of confidentiality rules – during investigations, all interviews with affected parties must be kept confidential at all times.
  • Setting temporary preventative measures to protect both employer and employee during a discrimination/retaliation investigation. This can include temporary reassignments, paid leaves of absence, or changes in supervisory control of the affected individuals.
  • Ensuring consistency in employee discipline – workplace policies must apply to all employees, and this includes the steps taken to discipline employees. Failure to remain consistent in these policies can aggravate claims of discrimination or retaliation, and may increase the strains on staffing firm insurance and other liability protections.

With these measures and policies in place, employers and employees both enjoy their benefits. Workplace discrimination claims have only increased in recent years. While staffing firm insurance is designed to protect against the financial burdens of defending against such claims, managing risks through stringent practices helps to protect staffing agencies, their clients, and their employees.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

Remote Hiring

A Guide to Remote Hiring for Staffing Agencies

The COVID-19 pandemic has created powerful and long-lasting effects around the world. In addition to the coronavirus’s health impacts, the economy has suffered, with many people losing their jobs. As the economy begins its recovery, more job seekers are turning to the Web for help. Remote workers are taking the place of many traditional in-person employment roles, and companies are increasingly leveraging remote working and recruitment technologies to restart their operations. Staffing agencies and human resources departments need to understand industry best practices for remote hiring and managing. Here’s how.

The Benefits of Remote Recruitment and Hiring Practices

Recruiting and hiring talented employees has always been a challenge for companies of every size and type. In the wake of COVID-19, this challenge has only increased. Many companies have had to revamp their recruitment and hiring practices to meet emerging risks, and staffing agencies are no exception. There are significant benefits to using remote recruitment and hiring practices, even in more favorable economic conditions. Benefits include:

  • Remote recruitment allows companies to bring in skills that may be hard to find in their current location.
  • These systems cost less than in-person recruiting workshops and in-person interviews, particularly if a candidate does not wish to relocate for work or has difficulties in traveling to visit potential employers.
  • Remote systems tend to be more flexible, allowing greater availability and access for employers and candidates.

Recruiting Remotely: Tips for Staffing Agencies

Now that the pandemic has changed the playing field for recruitment, how can staffing agencies leverage new tools and technologies? The process begins with recruitment, or attracting quality applicants to a given firm.

The key to success is for an employer to have a robust online presence with an excellent reputation and easy-to-find information on available jobs, locations, benefits, and corporate culture. It can also be extremely beneficial for companies and staffing agencies to maintain attractive social media accounts. These attributes help potential candidates visualize themselves as part of the work team and learn more about the company and its industry niche.

Staffing agencies may also use job-search platforms to connect with potential candidates. LinkedIn remains one of the most popular tools for this purpose, allowing a direct connection between employers and qualified candidates. Other remote worker-oriented platforms include Doist, FlexJobs, RemoteOK, and Working Nomads are available. Finally, global job boards such as Monster and Indeed offer employers a chance to connect with candidates and for candidates to search jobs from the comfort of home or office.

Hiring Best Practices

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced significant changes in the way companies and staffing agencies conduct the hiring process. For safety reasons, many employers have eliminated face-to-face interviews with candidates, at least temporarily. Many human resources professionals suggest that this trend may continue long after the pandemic is under control; remote interviews and hiring processes are more efficient and less costly than direct in-person meetings.

Assessing candidates remotely can be a challenge – and this is where technology has stepped forward to streamline the remote process. Video conferencing platforms, including Zoom, Skype, and Google Meet are used increasingly to interview qualified candidates. Alternatively, some staffing agencies use platforms like Jobma and HireVue to allow candidates to answer interview questions on their own time and at their own pace, then submitting recordings to potential employers.

One thing that has not changed in the wake of COVID-19 is the value represented by recommendations. Candidates can be assessed by requesting recommendations from mentors, previous employers, and industry contacts. Recommendations may also be posted on candidates’ LinkedIn or Indeed profile pages and should be considered part of the vetting process.

Remote Working Management for Staffing Agencies

One final tip to share with staffing agencies and companies looking to bolster their remote workforce is how such remote work is managed. The key here is to set expectations early and in a transparent manner. Not everyone is familiar with the demands of remote work environments and maintaining operations while adopting new technologies and practices has been challenging for many firms. With expectations understood by all parties, work can continue to flow efficiently.

Communication must be robust and flexible, allowing employers and their remote working staff to remain connected. Again, video conferencing technologies can be used to keep team efforts on track. Email and telephone calls also continue to be vital components of the remote work environment.

Remote working can create improved work-life balance in employees. Gallup’s poll suggests that over 50% of all employees value a better work-life balance, and remote working may satisfy that need. COVID-19 has forever changed many aspects of the business world. By remaining flexible, adopting new technologies, and embracing new practices, employers and staffing agencies can continue to recruit and hire talented individuals.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

Labor Challenges

Temporary Labor & Legal Challenges for Staffing Resulting from COVID-19

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to negatively affect businesses across the United States, many companies are facing staffing shortages. In order to fill staffing gaps, an increasing number of companies are utilizing the services of staffing agencies. For temporary laborers and the staffing agencies that place them, there are significant challenges looming on the horizon. For staffing agencies, one of these challenges is centered on general and professional employment liability. Agencies have a basic duty to verify that reasonably safe work accommodations are available for their temporary employees; in the wake of the highly-contagious coronavirus, protecting temporary employees from illness becomes a greater concern.

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