It seems like everyone’s holding open interviews this week. With summer fast upon us, the restaurant industry will create an average of 500,000 seasonal jobs. But before you staff up with a shiny new temporary workforce, here are some important legal tips to keep in mind:
Summer jobs aren’t just for teenagers, folks! Despite the onslaught of youth applications, the Age Discrimination and Employment Act still very much applies to seasonal work. The law prohibits discrimination against applicants and employees age 40 and older in every aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments and literally any other term or condition of the job. So, when you’re holding those interviews, make sure to give equal consideration to every applicant, regardless of their age. Focus instead on the person’s knowledge, skills and ability to perform the essential functions of the job.
If you do choose to hire a teenager, you must follow child labor laws. Minors have limits – especially in restaurants – and the law isn’t messing around when it comes to keeping our future safe. No meat slicers, saws, grinders, choppers, patty forming machines, commercial mixers, power-driven bakery machines or anything else declared “hazardous” that could potentially endanger life or limb. And if the employee is 14 or 15 years old – NEICO broilers, rotisseries, pressure cookers, fryolators, high-speed ovens, rapid toasters and baking activities are off limits too. Youth employment is heavily regulated, and the consequences for breaking the law could be criminal. So, if you hire a minor, make sure that you know their exact age and are militant about the activities that they’re allowed to perform.
Beyond a few limited exceptions, seasonal workers are entitled to all of the same legal protections as full-time employees, including protection from sexual harassment. Do not allow an employee’s temporary status to prevent you, in any way, from fulfilling your legal obligation as their employer. Remember that you are responsible to stop and prevent sexual harassment that you know or should have known was happening in the workplace – regardless of how short-lived the alleged victim or the alleged harasser’s employment. Make sure that every person who works a day in your restaurant receives a copy of your anti-harassment policy and that each worker is well-versed on both prohibited conduct and how to report it. Investigate every allegation equally and enact any discipline necessary to stop and prevent misconduct in the future.
Hiring new folks can be delicate business. Get the tools you need to do it like a pro with Restaurant Employment Law 101 | HIRE.