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Can you face legal risk for completing salary surveys?

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in HR Management,Human Resources

To set competitive salaries, you've probably filled out compensation surveys and maybe even managed such surveys yourself. But recent classaction lawsuits have led some HR professionals and business execs to rethink their participation in (or hosting of) such surveys.

The cases: In suits in Chicago, Memphis, San Antonio and Albany, N.Y., nurses and their union allege that hospitals conspired to keep wages low when they exchanged private information on the subject. Improper communication of the results can bring liability.

Despite this risk, you can still participate in or manage such surveys without liability problems if you take certain precautions. Here are five tips from the Fisher & Phillips law firm:

1. Conduct salary surveys using a third party. That factor alone can help you avoid a price-fixing claim.

2. Complete such surveys relatively infrequently. Repeated exchanges or discussions of salary ranges raise the appearance of improper motives.

3. Limit the analysis. Information exchanges accompanied by recommendations are riskier than simply releasing data.

4. Exchange only historical data, preferably at least 60 days old, as opposed to projected or future pay rates. (And ensure surveys include enough participants so readers can't identify the pay rates of individual workers.)

5. Make sure the survey data are available to others besides survey participants.  

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