Fired for Something That’s Not Even on My Job Description?

In yesterday’s Advisor, we looked at Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues related to job descriptions. Today we’ll look at the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and discrimination issues, and we’ll take a look at a unique set of job description samples that might just solve all your job description challenges. (Read yesterday’s article here.)

Let’s start with a discrimination case where the employer says, “I fired you because you didn’t do the job.” And the employee replies, “You fired me because I’m a member of a protected group, and that thing you said I didn’t do, that’s not even in my job description!”

Of course, you can require people to do something that’s not on their job description, and if they don’t do it, you can discipline them and fire them. But in defending your case, you don’t want distractions like the one about the job description just described. If it proves true, it’s going to look bad.

Gee, the jury thinks, they fired him for not doing something that wasn’t even important enough to be on the job description? Won’t the jury give you the benefit of the doubt? That you just didn’t get around to changing the job description? Not likely.

First of all, most juries aren’t predisposed in favor of the employers. And second, juries assume that employers are well-run professional operations that easily accomplish routine tasks like updating job descriptions.

Attorneys will ask annoying questions such as, “What’s the point of your job descriptions if they don’t describe the job?”

And then there is the issue of expectations. The bedrock of performance appraisal and discipline is that expectations and goals are clearly set forth. If they are not, you’re back in that sticky situation: You fired him because he didn’t meet the expectations, but how was he supposed to know about those expectations—they’re not even in the job description!

Now you appear to be unfair, and you’re left with a weak response: Everyone knows what’s expected in that job.

Set that keyboard aside! Your job descriptions are already written. Click here to see why thousands of managers have a permanent place in their offices for BLR’s classic Job Descriptions Encyclopedia.

How About the FLSA?

For all FLSA exempt/nonexempt questions, the job description will again be a starting point.

However, it is important to note that the job description is not definitive. That is, just because the job description says a person is “exempt” or uses the word “manages” doesn’t mean that the feds and courts will take that at face value. The determination is always made case-by-case and considering the actual duties of the job.

That said, however, the job description is given considerable weight in determining the duties performed. (Again, however, it’s the duties that are actually performed that matter.)

The bottom line is that it’s important to write a good job description that includes details about essential functions and accurately portrays what the incumbent does. And it’s important to do it now, before you need it to defend a charge or lawsuit.

Need help? If your job descriptions are not up to date—or if you’ve never even written them—you’re not alone. Thousands of companies fall short in this area.

It’s easy to understand why. Job descriptions are not simple to do—what with updating and management and legal review, especially given the ADA’s emphasis on essential functions. Wouldn’t it be great if your job descriptions were available and already written?

Actually, they are. We have more than 700, ready to go, covering every common position in any organization, from receptionist right up to president. They are in an extremely popular BLR® program called the Job Descriptions Encyclopedia.

First created in the 1980s, the “JDE” has been continually refined and updated over time, with descriptions revised or added each time the law, technology—or the way we do business—changes.

Prewritten job descriptions in the Job Descriptions Encyclo

pedia now come with pay grades already attached. Click here to try the program at no cost.

Revised for the ADA; Pay Grades Updated

There was a major revision, for example, following the passage of the ADA. In fact, BLR editors reviewed every one of those 700 descriptions to ensure they were ADA-compliant.

Another enhancement was the updating of pay grades for each job. According to our customers, this is an enormous time saver, enabling them to make compensation decisions even as they define the position. You can see a sample job description from the program by clicking here. (Yes, it is the one for HR Manager. Pay grade: 38.)

The BLR Job Descriptions Encyclopedia also includes an extensive tutorial on setting up a complete job descriptions program, and how to encourage participation from all parts of the organization. That includes top management, the employees, and any union or other collective bargaining entity.

Quarterly Updates at No Additional Cost

Very important these days, quarterly updates are included in the program as a standard feature—key at a time of constantly changing laws and emerging technologies. We’ll send you new or revised descriptions every 90 days. And the cost is extremely reasonable, averaging less than 43 cents per job description … already written, legally reviewed, and ready to adapt or use as is.

You can evaluate BLR’s Job Descriptions Encyclopedia at no cost in your office for up to 30 days. Get more information or order the Job Descriptions Encyclopedia.

Download product sample
Download list of job descriptions included

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