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Sunday, August 30, 2009

You Are On Notice

As most employers know, there are a myriad of federal and state laws that govern the relationship between employer and employee. These laws can be complex and seemingly designed to be understood only by lawyers (which is not surprising considering that they were written by lawyers). For example, the Family and Medical Leave Act was enacted to serve a noble and socially desirable purpose but the end result has been a plethora of litigation that, over the years, has confused judges and employers alike. The Fair Labor Standards Act and New Jersey’s Wage and Hours law have caused many an employer to misclassify and incorrectly pay employees – with severe financial penalties for the employers and good fees for the attorneys. However, there is one aspect of all of these laws and regulations that is quite easy to understand and comply with; notice requirements.

Employers have some very specific notice requirements. Failure to provide the various forms of notice required by federal and state law can result in sanctions for the employer with attendant expenses, as well as a loss of legislated employer rights. For example, failure to post the required FMLA notices can result in the employer losing the right to take action against an employee who does not fulfill his/her obligations under the law. In addition, the failure to post can support allegations of interfering with an employee’s FMLA rights and cause an employee’s leave to not be designated as FMLA leave, thereby potentially entitling an employee to 12 weeks of leave in addition to time already taken.

The U.S. Department of Labor outlines, in various federal regulations, the notice requirements for employers. A list of required posters is available at the Department of Labor website, www.dol.gov/osbp/sbrefa/poster/matrix.htm. New Jersey’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development also lists the required posters and notices at http://lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/employer/content/employerpacketforms.html. Several of the notices can be printed off of the web site. Workers compensation insurance carriers will have the required notices for this mandatory benefit, and general business insurance carriers will be able to supply (or procure) the mandatory Occupational Safety and Health Act posters.

In short, proper notice is the foundation of ensuring that employers and employees alike are aware of their rights and obligations under the various employment laws. Since the employer controls the workplace, the employer is responsible for ensuring that notice requirements are met.

Notice has been served.

 


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