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NJBIA’s first HR seminar of the year is right around the corner, and the topic is something that small businesses need to tune into right away. The topic is legal liability, which isn’t new. What is new is the fact that if your company does find itself in hot water, legal liability doesn’t stop with the business: Now, owners and their supervisors can be subject to personal liability as well.

That’s why we titled the seminar, Getting Personal: Knowing the Legal Liabilities of a Hostile Work Environment.

I am sharing this with our ChamberLink readers because our partnership allows members of any participating chamber of commerce to attend the seminar in Roseland at NJBIA’s member price, even if they are not members of NJBIA.

The seminar will be led by attorney Michael Shadiack, who is chair of the Labor and Employment Practice Group at Connell Foley. Shadiack is a skilled presenter and an expert in New Jersey employment law who has contributed to NJBIA programs for years. He also has been conducting workplace harassment training at businesses across the state for more than 15 years.

The reason for personal liability comes not from the Legislature, but from the courts. New Jersey courts have held that in addition to employers being liable for violations under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, supervisors can be personally liable for their illegal conduct as well. In other words, if a supervisor is aware of an employee being sexually harassed or racially discriminated against and does nothing about it, that supervisor is personally liable.

This puts a premium on educating businesses and their supervisors, managers, and basically anyone who has the authority to direct another employee’s work. Supervisors of course should know their legal responsibilities in the workplace regardless, but the hectic pace of modern commerce doesn’t make such training easy to schedule.

With the stakes this high, however, training supervisors takes on a dramatic new importance. Please take this opportunity on Feb. 7 to learn how to go about it.

In the meantime, there are plenty of networking opportunities next week.