It’s impossible, of course, to predict the future. But at the end of 2010, several recent developments look like they will generate major developments for 2011. Here’s what I think lies in store in 2011 for HR, legal and compliance professionals as we count down to a brand-new year.
It’s impossible, of course, to predict the future. But at the end of 2010, several recent developments look like they will generate major trends for 2011. Here’s what I think lies in store in 2011 for HR, legal and compliance professionals as we count down to a brand-new year.
The Law and Congress:
- Lacking both a Congressional majority in the U.S. House and the ability to quash filibusters in the Senate, President Obama will use executive powers rather than legislative action to increase administrative enforcement and issue new regulations involving Fair Labor Standards Act violations, traditional labor management issues, and workplace safety.
- Expect special attention to be paid to enforcement of retaliation claims – encouraging and protecting employees to come forward is more cost-effective than using government resources.
- Claims of employment discrimination across all bases (e.g., race, sex, national origin, religion, disability, age) will grow. More charges will be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in FY 2011 than in FY 2010, a record-breaking year.
- Look for wage and hour claims to spread to new sectors such as professional organizations, similar to what occurred in the pharmaceutical sector.
- The U.S. Supreme Court will narrow the scope of the Dukes v. Walmart class-action lawsuit, which alleges Walmart discriminated against women in promotions, pay and job assignments in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Court’s narrowly worded decision will relate specifically to Walmart based on its large and geographically dispersed workforce. Still, it will throw cold water on many plaintiffs seeking to file broad-based lawsuits ultimately based on localized practices.
Confidentiality and Privacy
- The fear of new media such as WikiLeaks and theft of confidential information will move from governments to businesses — with the help of disgruntled and former employees. As a result, employers will look for new technologies to prevent access and distribution of corporate data. This will include new methods for tracking employees’ use of corporate records during all stages of their employment, not just after their terminations. Some business will make a mega-fortune developing a way to code and decode email and documentary correspondence for screen-only reading. Such documents won’t be printable, savable or emailable.
- Employers will encourage leaders at all levels not to use email or voicemail for the most sensitive messages, as they can be readily saved and digitally circulated. New initiatives will spring up within organizations, encouraging a returned reliance on live conversations and, believe it or not, old-fashioned snail or interoffice mail for the most sensitive communications.
- Social norms will begin to take hold about the use of social media in the workplace, establishing what not to photograph, text, email or post about at work, especially whenever it involves coworkers and business associates.
- Fueled by sluggish economic conditions and fewer job opportunities (not by different technology experiences and values as many have written), workplace tensions will increase between younger workers who want but can’t find jobs and the older workers who want to retire but can’t afford to do so.
Globalization Corporate Culture
- In the United States, we will continue to export jobs as organizations rely on team members drawn from entirely different cultural and legal communities to get work done and build business sectors. Developing behavioral standards tied to shared business objectives and values rather than the customs of a global parent will be seen as the best way to build and manage effective international teams.
Last But Not Least…
- There will be some completely unanticipated and seismic jolt one way or another tying into one of the trends suggested above.
Best wishes for a happy holiday, and a healthy and prosperous New Year!
Stephen M. Paskoff, Esq., is president and CEO of Atlanta-based ELI Inc., which provides award-winning learning solutions that transform complex laws and ethical codes of conduct into simple behavioral rules that improve performance, reduce legal risk, and create productive workplace cultures. Mr. Paskoff is the former co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Compliance Law Training and Communication Subcommittee. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.