February 4, 2020
Inside: Learn about your legal obligations and your employees’ rights with this crash course on employment law.
There are a whole host of laws that dictate what obligations you have as an employer to protect your employees from discrimination, how much you need to pay, and more. If you violate workers’ rights, you may find yourself in a web of legal challenges.
To keep yourself in good standing, these are the basic legal requirements you need to keep in mind as a pharmacy owner.
There are a host of laws prohibiting discrimination that could affect your independent pharmacy. These laws are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but anti-discrimination laws are applied differently to businesses depending on their size.
All businesses with at least one employee are required to provide equal pay for equal work regardless of an employee’s gender.
At 15 employees, more laws kick in. With 15 to 19 employees, discrimination on the basis of these characteristics is prohibited by law:
If your pharmacy has 20 or more employees, all the previous non-discrimination laws apply, with the added condition that you cannot discriminate against someone because of their age.
You have an obligation to inform your employees about federal discrimination laws by hanging a poster in your workplace, and you aren’t allowed to retaliate against employees if they report you for discrimination.
To learn more about the specific anti-discrimination laws affect your pharmacy, read on.
In 1991, the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, preventing employers of 15 or more people from treating employees or job applications unfavorablly because they have a disability.
To prevent discrimination during the hiring process, employers aren’t allowed to ask any medical questions or require a medical exam while interviewing.
Employers are also obligated to provide reasonable accommodation for employees and job applicants with disabilities. This could mean making your pharmacy accessible to wheelchair users, offering flexible leave for those who need medical treatment, or reallocating non-essential tasks from the job.
If necessary accommodations will cause undue hardship for your pharmacy (meaning the accommodations are too costly or will cause significant difficulty), they aren’t required. However, this doesn’t mean you can decline to provide accommodation because it costs money. You must make a good-faith effort to accommodate employees with disabilities.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prevents discrimination based on sex, and it casts a wide net. In addition to forbidding hiring and firing based on sex, it also prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. Both verbal and physical harassment are considered sexual harassment, as well as general derogatory comments about people of a certain sex.
Pregnancy discrimination is also considered sex discrimination. You cannot hire or fire a woman based on pregnancy status, and if a pregnant person can no longer perform their work duties, you must provide reasonable accommodations based on the ADA.
Even though it is not included specifically in Title VII, the EEOC considers discrimination against LGBT people as sex discrimination. Though state and local laws may differ, the EEOC has made it clear they consider discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation illegal.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects workers aged 40 and older from harassment due to their age, and from discrimination in hiring, firing, and other workplace conditions.
Some states also have laws that prevent discrimination against workers younger than 40. For resources on younger workers’ rights, check out the EEOC’s Youth at Work page.
Most employers know they have to pay their employees the minimum wage — that’s $7.25 per hour at the federal level — but the Fair Labor Standards Act governs more than hourly payment.
Based on this law, non-exempt workers are entitled to time-and-a-half pay if they work more than 40 hours in a single week. To ensure everyone is being compensated fairly, employers have to keep records of employee’s hours and pay.
The law also sets rules for employees that are under 18 years old. The specific rules for child workers in the healthcare industry can be found here.
The FLSA applies to any business with annual sales of $500,000 or more, or any business that conducts interstate commerce. Like with non-discrimination laws, businesses are required to display a poster informing employees of their rights.
Even if your employees aren’t unionized, your pharmacy is subject to the National Labor Relations Act. It’s a law protecting employees who want to organize their workplace or join unions.
Employees don’t actually have to be unionized to be protected by this law. They are allowed to collectively organize to ask for better working conditions even if there’s no union in place.
As an employer, you cannot threaten employees’ jobs or benefits to prevent them from taking collective action or promise benefits in exchange for not organizing. Even in right-to-work states, your employees have the right to organize.
You may not think consumer protection laws have anything to do with employment, but if you are conducting background checks on employees, you need to be aware of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
When you use a third party to conduct a background check on potential employees, you have to meet FCRA regulations. It states that employers must get written consent from new employees when conducting a background check. If a background check brings up something that makes you decide not to hire, you have to let the applicant know and give them information on how to dispute the report.
The average pharmacy doesn’t have enough employees to be affected by the Family and Medical Leave Act, which only applies to businesses with 50 or more workers, but its requirements are good to keep at the back of your mind in case of expansion.
FMLA allows employees to take 12 weeks of unpaid leave to take care of a new child, a family member with a health condition, or to treat their own health condition. It also guarantees that employees who takes FMLA leave will still have a job when they return.
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The company is a member-owned organization that serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, distribution services, and more.
PBA Health, an HDA member, operates its own VAWD-certified warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products.
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