If you’re just starting out in your career as a Project Manager or are perhaps working as a Project Manager on a relatively small project, then you’ll invariably find yourself being directly responsible for more and more things, including directly recruiting, managing and trouble-shooting staff yourself. Whilst you will of course want to recruit the best staff and treat them all fairly – are you confident that you know about US employment law and how it could affect your recruitment and managerial procedures and styles?
So what does employment law say?
To answer that question definitively, unfortunately is virtually impossible at any one time – as the law is constantly open to interpretation. That doesn’t mean to say that Project Managers can make their own interpretations of US employment laws, but that as employment law cases are heard by the courts – the subsequent and various rulings can alter the way that US employment law is applied. The result of this is that just reading about US employment law is not enough to keep you abreast of how it is currently being applied. This means that, if you haven’t the time to personally keep track of the latest court rulings; that you can at least refer to an attorney who is an employment law expert.
Where to start with US employment law.
Having said all of that – where should you start your understanding of US employment law? Firstly you need to know that US employment law is enshrined in four main acts: The equal pay act of 1963, The civil rights act of 1964, The age discrimination in employment act of 1967 and the Americans with disabilities act of 1990. These are all federal laws – however, they will all be backed up by local state laws too. As previously mentioned, the wording in all of those original laws will now be open to new and extended interpretations, but the general ethos enshrined in them remains the same. However, say someone with a disability applied for a post with you – you are not restricted to hiring them by anything within the relevant act. What you must do is be confident that, and be able to demonstrate that, you have given them due and equal consideration on their own merit and in relation to other candidates for the post. The simplest way to do this is simply not to ask or say anything that could be taken as being discriminatory. For example – advertizing a job requiring graduate status is fine, advertizing a job suitable for a recent graduate would not be. Why, well quite simply the latter statement implies you’re only looking for young prospective employees.