Risk management has become a large part of the function of every human resource professional. To provide value added services to their companies, human resource professionals work with attorneys to conduct internal audits and training programs for their supervisory and managerial staff. Audits can prevent or lower penalties imposed by federal and state agencies or establish methods to defend the company against legal claims. These will ultimately result is less attorneys’ fees.
For example, clients are asking us to audit how they are protecting their intellectual property, starting with the hiring process and continuing with recommended documentation, internal procedures to protect intellectual property and exit procedures to help prevent the disclosure of trade secrets and confidential information. An I-9 audit can determine if a company is asking for too many documents and if the I-9 forms are not completed properly. Technical violations can result in fines imposed for each incorrectly completed form. Even with companies having 25 employees, the fines can amount to thousands of dollars. And, in this time of economic challenge for employees who are asking for hardship loans, a 401(k) audit could provide assistance as to whether the loans are properly made and documented.
Along with internal audits, supervisory training is another part of the overall human resource services provided by attorneys. For example, if a company is sued for alleged harassment, one of the company’s affirmative defenses is the anti-harassment training provided to the supervisors and employees. Union avoidance training may prevent the emergence of unions and provide the skills supervisors need to maintain an issue-free and union-free environment. Although audits and training programs cannot guarantee that a federal or state agency will not impose fines or that a disgruntled employee may not litigate a claim, audits and training programs are a vital part of risk management. Please contact your relationship attorney if your organization would like more information.