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SEP
24

Are Your Conversations Being Recorded?

Secretly recording conversations in the workplace is on the rise, and in some states, it is perfectly legal, but in the end, it all comes down to the subject matter being recorded. This trend has prompted employers to add human resource departments to their companies or to reach out to human resource management companies to implement employee training and to help to create employee handbooks outlining appropriate workplace behavior stating what is or is not allowed in the workplace; this should include tape recordings or taking photos at work.

Discrimination, sexual harassment, the "Me Too" movement, and whistle blowers have caused lawsuits to accelerate at record speed due to employees' taping conversations at work or at a company function outside the office without their employer's or co-worker's knowledge, but is this legal? Yes … and no.

Federal and state laws vary across the nation from the following: One Party Consent, All Parties Consent, Mixed Consent and Unestablished Consent. Georgia is a One-Party Consent State, as are most states. Georgia law, O.C.G.A. § 16-11-66, clearly states that it is okay to record a conversation where one person gives consent to the recording. This means that the person making the recording has knowledge of the recording and is consensual, even though the person he/she is recording has no knowledge of the recording. It is allowed either in a public or a private place.

Conversely, Georgia law O.C.G.A. § 16-11-62 prohibits recording a person or a phone call if the people they are recording have no knowledge of it: e.g., wire-tapping a phone between two parties other than yourself, or leaving a tape recorder in your bosses office to record a conversation between your boss and someone other than yourself; this action is strictly forbidden and will generally not hold up as evidence in a court of law.

So, what does an employer need to do to protect his or her company from a potential lawsuit? You must make the rules crystal clear that company policy prohibits tape recording supervisors, owners, or fellow employees in the workplace; however, according to The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) the following may be legally recorded without consequence:

  • Recording images of protected picketing;
  • Documenting unsafe workplace equipment or hazardous conditions;
  • Publishing discussions about the terms and conditions of employment, including discussions with management;
  • Documenting inconsistent application of employer rules; and
  • Recording evidence to later use in judicial or administrative proceedings."

Will outlining what is and what is not allowed in the employee handbook prevent secret recordings in the workplace? Maybe. Generally, the NLRB agrees that no-recording laws or no photos taken in the workplace should be allowed.In the case of employee endangerment, such as a whistle-blower situation, and if there is just cause that a real and present danger exists, the court will likely allow the tape recording as evidence, even though it was strictly forbidden. It pays to know your employees' rights, as well as your own.

Because the rules can be highly complicated, discussing your options with a reputable Human Resource Management Company like Stellaris Group in Marietta, Georgia will be your best bet. Stellaris Group has a network of knowledgeable personnel who stay up-to-date on human resource issues and they are more than willing to answer your questions and to address your concerns.

References:

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/state-and-local-updates/pages/secret-recordings.aspx

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_(U.S._state)_wiretapping_laws

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SEP
18

Commonsense Halloween Protocol for the Workplace

Halloween is a great time for many people to release their alter egos, but when it comes to the workplace, you might want to play by the rules. The following are some basic guidelines to ensure that your Halloween costume won't wind up getting you fired. 

If in Doubt—Ask
If you aren't sure about how to dress for Halloween or what is appropriate to wear, ask a colleague, your supervisor, or check with your Human Resources Department. The information may also be in your employee handbook. The last thing you want is to show up wearing an inappropriate costume, or even worse, show up as the only one dressed in a costume.

Consider Your Environment
If your company policy allows for Halloween costumes but is somewhat vague, use common sense. What type company do you work for? Is it a highly conservative atmosphere or is it relaxed and informal? Are you in the medical field, on staff at a hospital, a social worker, or a paramedic where dressing in costume could be offensive or confusing to some people. In other words, it might not be a very good idea to dress as the Grim Reaper at a funeral home, etc. You get the idea.

Make Sure Your Costume Won't Interfere with Routine Duties
If you are determined to release your alter ego and want to dress as Iron Man, be sure you are able to function normally behind your desk or while using the phone: a cumbersome costume should not interfere with your work. If your alter ego is a sexy mermaid, be sure you would not show more bare skin than you would when dressed for a normal work day. Can you remove your costume on your own or will you need help when nature calls and have to rely on a colleague to assist you? If you have to second-guess it, you might want to re-think it.

Feeding the Masses
Bringing lots of Halloween candy and parking it on your desk sounds like a great idea, but in actuality, it can be disruptive. We all know that one person at work who always has food or candy at his or her desk for anyone to take, don't we? If you want to share Halloween treats with your colleagues, place it in the break room or in a common area instead of having everyone gather at your desk.

When it comes to choosing a Halloween costume for work, playing it safe is always your best bet. Try a theme such as having everyone dress like a favorite character from a popular television show, a blockbuster movie, or play. It's probably a good idea to leave politicians or religious figures out of your costume choices at work.

Just remember to ask if you are unsure and to use your common sense. If you don't have an HR department at your workplace, try checking in with a local Human Resource Management company like Stellaris Group in Marietta, Georgia. Although policies differ from work place to work place, Stellaris Group could definitely lead you in the right direction. Follow these guidelines and chances are that you will have a Spooktacular celebration that everyone will enjoy.

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JUN
04

Why it’s Important to Create a Cohesive Customer Service Culture in the Workplace

It seems as if every company has at least one person, when asked to help out with someone else's duties, they will whine, "But that's not my job! Why should I have to help them?" This person is only one of many who represent your company and what would you like to bet that they do not represent you in the way you would like to be represented? Odds are pretty good that they don't.  

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MAY
25

Wage and Hour Division Misclassifications

Nobody wants to tussle with the IRS and for the most part, wage and hour division misclassifications are generally caused by mistakes made during the hiring process. They are due to not knowing exactly how to classify an employee as a worker, as management, an independent contractor, etc. The IRS, Department of Labor, and Fair Labor Standards Act all have information on their websites that are invaluable to a business owner or manager when it comes to figuring things out.  

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MAY
03

Creating a Service Culture: Every Employee is a Customer Service Rep

Creating a service culture

What Should be the Biggest Investment in Your Business or Company?

Before you answer that, think about the last time you called a customer service representative—was the person courteous or was the person rude? How did the call affect the way you would approach doing business with them in the future; did it aid with your decision to either cut ties or continue using the service the company provides?

The answer is obvious: your biggest investment should be your employees. Providing proper guidance and training for your employees, followed up by recognition for their efforts through praise, awards or a promotion is going to ensure you remain in good standing with your customers. After all, employees are your direct link to your customers and unless your business is a total monopoly, good customer service can make or break good business relations.
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MAR
23

When it’s time for the pink slip

It's Friday afternoon, and you are ready for your last meeting of the day. The office is clearing out, and you call in… Janet. Janet hasn't been performing up to standards, and it's time to let her go. You've prepared as much as you can for this moment. There's a fresh box of tissues in your office. Janet enters and sees the termination paperwork on your desk and… throws your potted plant on the floor.

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MAR
09

3 simple hacks to help restore work/life balance

 Fatigue and burnout are becoming more frequent topics of HR discussion. The results of each – which can range from increased errors to employee turnover – have serious consequences for businesses of all sizes.

Even in our 24/7 society, it is possible to encourage work/life balance with your team. Try a few of the following hacks to encourage rest and daily restoration for your employees:

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FEB
23

You need people to succeed!

​There is one thing that every business needs to succeed: people. You need people to come up with the ideas, to create the products and to sell them. You need people to manage the people who do the work, and you need people to manage the company so that it stays viable. No matter what – you need people.

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FEB
09

HR trends for 2018

Every year HR trends change and fluctuate because of each department as well as the nature of the business. Here are some of the biggest trends we're seeing for 2018 to put on your radar:

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JAN
26

You’re not too small for us!

Your business may be small, but your dreams aren't. As your business grows, you will always be looking for ways to expand the workforce that you will grow to meet your changing needs. And when your workforce grows, the issues that face your company will grow too. An experienced HR professional or department is an asset to any company. They are the ones who can make sure that your employees have someone to understand their concerns and issues.

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JAN
12

Three reasons why the best employees leave their companies

Think people switch jobs primarily to earn more money? Think again. 

Gallup studies have found that about 50% of 7,200 adults surveyed left a job "to get away from their manager." 

Other surveys show that money is often the second, third or fourth most important reason for a job switch, but not No. 1. Surprised?


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JAN
03

Outsource your HR needs and stay in compliance!

As a small business owner, it's critical that you comply with federal, state and local regulations. One missed item can lead to significant penalties, fines or even the forced closure of your business.


Are your day-to-day responsibilities preventing you from making sure your human resources department is in order? Do you feel like you're regularly putting out fires with little time to formulate or follow a plan? If so, it's time to consider outsourcing your HR needs.


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DEC
03

5 Ways to Make Your Office Party a Success

The holidays are just around the corner and for many companies this means holiday office parties. Employers should aim to host events that are both fun and safe for employees while avoiding any type of liability. At Stellaris Group, we strive to keep companies informed to avoid litigation that could potentially arise from company-hosted events. Below is a list of compiled tips to keep holiday office parties festive and free of liability.

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SEP
15

Top 5 Reasons to Outsource

Remember when HR departments were personnel? I just dated myself, didn't I? Back in the day, most HR departments were the go-to spot for employees with questions or concerns about benefits, hiring, training, complaints, colleagues, etc. All the way back to when it was the "Personnel" department, before HR was even a thing. For executives, it was all about managing the masses, and probably where the term "Human Resources" came from. Who wants to be a "resource" anyway?

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APR
28

Effective ways to meet and learn about another’s business.

There is nothing quite like breaking bread to make a connection and get to know someone.

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