Labor law posters: How to comply and avoid expensive oversight

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When labor law violations make the news, missing labor law posters aren’t typically the focus. Perhaps that’s because they’re often out of sight and out of mind. This was made apparent in a recent QuickBooks survey of 1,000 U.S. business owners. One in 5 admits to either never updating labor law posters or not displaying them at all. 

Data from the same survey also revealed many don’t know displaying labor law posters is a legal requirement. But businesses of all sizes can violate workplace poster rules. And fines can get pricey. 

 

A requirement with many moving parts

It’s important to make two things clear. The onus of displaying workplace labor law posters falls on employers. Second, displaying posters is required, even if a business only has one employee. Other requirements vary, depending on state and federal laws. But currently, there are six federal labor law posters: 

  1. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO)
  2. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  3. Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  4. Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
  5. Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)
  6. Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)

Depending on your state’s laws, there are additional posters to include. In Georgia, for example, the Official Georgia Code requires the following in both English and Spanish:

  1. Unemployment Insurance for Employees
  2. Employer Vacation (exemption from unemployment) 
  3. Equal Pay for Equal Work Act

 

Ignorance isn’t bliss and noncompliance can get pricey

Among noncompliant businesses in the QuickBooks report, 14% say they don’t display workplace posters at all. And of the respondents in that group, almost half (47%) say they’re unaware it’s mandatory. 

Interestingly, the QuickBooks research found that small businesses are more compliant than their larger counterparts. Theoretically, some aspects of compliance can be easier to monitor in a smaller place. There are fewer stakeholders to make decisions and implement changes. But corporations typically have access to dedicated legal teams that ensure compliance.  

It’s not uncommon for employers to miss news of new or updated labor law requirements. That’s where legal or HR counsel can help. It’s not always cost-effective for a small business owner to consult regularly with a legal expert. But some subscription services offer a 100% compliance guarantee to help businesses stay on the right side of the law. While it is understandably difficult for small businesses to stay abreast of nuances and changes in labor laws, ignorance is never the answer.  

Common complaints submitted to the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are on statutory wage-hour violations and discrimination at the workplace. So workplace poster violations are rarely the primary cause of an investigation, but violations can add insult to injury.  

According to the 2017 Hiscox Guide to Employee Lawsuits, business owners have a 1 in 10 chance of having an employment charge filed against them. An investigation would involve on-site visits wherein, more often than not, more offenses get tagged on. Not displaying workplace posters is one of them, particularly when it comes to state laws. Among business owners who have been fined, according to the QuickBooks report, 1 in 2 was fined between $501 and $2,500. Other reported penalties went up to $10,000. 

 

Prevention and preemption for the win

At its core, the purpose of the labor law poster requirement is to inform workers of their rights under state and federal employment laws. Typically, most legislatures or agencies grant at least a 60-day notice once a law or revision has passed. Employers should familiarize themselves with the new or revised terms before proceeding, or seek professional input before implementing new policies. In this case, being proactive to prevent noncompliance will always serve a business right.  

 


About the author

Caroline J. Brown is Of Counsel at Fisher Phillips’ Atlanta office and a core member of the firm’s Wage and Hour Practice Group. A significant portion of her practice focuses on wage and hour law, including minimum wage, overtime, timekeeping, and exemptions under federal law. Caroline assists employers in an effort to ensure compliance with state wage-hour and wage-payment laws, including designing compensation plans, paid leave policies, and payroll procedures. Her advice is customized based on each client’s size, industry, and objectives. In addition, Caroline is a frequent writer on a wide range of wage and hour topics and the editor of the firm’s Wage and Hour Laws Blog.