Tips for avoiding employment claims
May 1, 2009
- Don't panic and hire any warm body toward the end of the hiring season, just to have someone in place. Wait! Hire subs if you have to. "Good enough" isn't a good criterion to use when hiring. You may be stuck with the wrong choice.
- Although reference checking and extensive screening seem tedious, they save you time and heartache in the long run. Do thorough background checks on all employees. Check the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission Web site to see if any action has been taken against prospective employees.
- Train your HR specialists in proper candidate interviewing techniques. We see a lot of problems with interviewers who aren't properly trained.
- When calling references, ask, "Would you hire this person again?" Be alert for "red flags" in the answer. (Separation agreements may dictate what can be said during a reference call.)
- Provide your HR staff with extensive training on investigations.
- Don't skip the details. Cases easily can be lost on technicalities, such as missed deadlines. Update yourself on the Oregon Family Leave Act, Family Medical Leave Act and other legislation through OSBA.
- Boards should ask their superintendents or presidents for an annual report on hiring practices. Learn how evaluations are done, if directors and managers are held accountable for conducting evaluations, etc. An annual evaluation is essential if you want to track an employee's progress or build a case. Contact OSBA Policy Services for advice.
- Training is key on issues like diversity and sensitivity and conflict resolution.
- Boards need to model sound hiring practices. Follow the same accountability standards in hiring and evaluating your superintendents or presidents as you expect them to follow.
- Remember that your notes are considered public record.
- Understand that discipline issues are often governed by your employee union contract. Some contracts call for `just cause,' a seven-step discipline process, while others rely on due process, which is simpler.
Also see our Staying Safe resources for more insights and information on ways to reduce risk from violence, natural disasters, vandalism, accidents or expensive lawsuits.