Above all, prospective employers need to avoid illegal discrimination. Federal law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, age, national origin, disability, religion, or pregnancy during the hiring process. In addition, some jurisdictions prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Employers must protect the privacy of potential employees by keeping private or sensitive information confidential, and must alert the employee if background or credit checks are required. Employers must obey all statutes that cover the documentation of age and immigration status.
When using their employer’s network or computers, employees do not have a right to privacy. The Supreme Court has ruled that an employer’s network is private property, and employers have the right to monitor Internet usage and block or limit visits to certain websites. E-mails sent through an employer’s system are the employer’s property, and employers are allowed to read or store all e-mails sent or received through their equipment or network. Employers are also allowed to discipline employees who use the Internet or computer equipment for personal use, if the employer has made their Internet policies clear to their employees.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) covers a number of workplace issues, including the minimum wage, child labor, and overtime. The FLSA applies to most employers, including federal, state, and local governments as well as most private employers.
Independent contractors work with employers to complete a project according to the terms of a contract. A company that hires an independent contractor is therefore a client, not an employer. Independent contractors do not have taxes (including federal, state, local, Social Security, or unemployment taxes) deducted from their payments. Employers cannot direct the work of an independent contractor, but they can lay out the terms of approval or performance in the original agreement. The independent contractor has the right to decide when and how to complete the project.
Employers are allowed to ask employees whether they have a disability which would prevent them from meeting the qualifications necessary to perform a job. If the employee has a disability which would prevent them from adequately meeting the position’s requirements, the employer can consider the disability during the hiring process.
The Electronics Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) allows employers to monitor business-related phone calls. However, the ECPA prohibits employers from monitoring an employee’s personal calls, even if they are made or received using the employer’s equipment. Employers are allowed to monitor personal calls if the employee is aware of the monitoring and consents. The ECPA also prohibits an employer from monitoring, deleting, or preventing access to an employee’s voicemail messages.