Remind supervisors: Neglecting job descriptions, appraisals lead to trouble

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in Discrimination and Harassment,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

It may be a busy, hectic and crazy workplace, but that doesn’t excuse supervisors and managers from providing updated and accurate job descriptions and documenting job performances. Workplaces that neglect those essential duties face huge lawsuit risks.

That’s why HR needs to lean on management to make sure employees know what their jobs are and get feedback. Neglect those basics and your organization will have nothing to fall back on if a disgruntled employee sues.

Recent case: Wanda Birch was one of several female magistrates hired by a male judge at the Cuyahoga County Probate Court. When she and the other women discovered that they earned much less than their male counterparts—in fact, the lowest-paid male made more than the highest paid female—they demanded a meeting.

It went badly. The probate judge allegedly told the women that the men did more important work and deserved more. Birch sued, alleging sex discrimination under federal and Ohio laws. The probate court then tried to say Birch was poorly paid because she wasn’t a good worker. But the probate court had zilch to back up its claims—no job descriptions, no evaluations and no system for setting salaries.

The Court of Appeals of Ohio sent the case to trial. The reasoning: In addition to the probate court’s lack of evidence to back up its claim of poor work, the judge’s comments were direct evidence of discrimination. (Birch v. Cuyahoga County Probate Court, No. 88854, Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth Appellate Division, 2007)

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