Employee relations can be among the most challenging part of any business enterprise, yet few small- to moderate-sized companies really understand human resource policies and laws. Thye may not be able to afford the expertise they need until it’s too late.
Enter Julie Young, whose efforts to educate employers about the legal opportunities and constraints in human relations have earned her the Good Works award.
Young, a Worley Law attorney with 14 years of HR experience, is the catalyst behind Worley’s free HR Lunch & Learn sessions. During the sessions, she educates 30 to 40 employers on human resource trends, legislative initiatives and changes in the law. Young’s goal is to provide realistic, practical solutions to common HR concerns.
She also provides free human resource audits to employers to help ensure their policies and practices are best designed to protect both the employers and employees.
“Most people are not in the business of employing people--they are in the business of doing their business,” she says. “We are looking for practical solutions that are legally compliant, with an eye toward protecting them from liability.
“Instead of being on the defense, I wanted to help employers be on the offense. Litigation is expensive and time consuming. Almost everything I speak about stems from seeing the same issues over and over.”
Amanda Sage, president of Westerville-based Gong Gong Communications, says she nominated Young because her outreach helps people who may not even realize they need help.
“She genuinely cares about seeing small businesses get what they need to succeed and not fail,” says Sage. “She makes it understandable for everyone. You don’t have to be an attorney or human-resources pro to know what she is talking about. She makes sure you have as smooth a path as possible.”
Young started off in construction law with the firm of Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, but the opportunity to work in human resources and employment law quickly turned into a passion. Recognizing that most companies cannot withstand the financial, emotional and time cost of litigation, she shifted her practice toward being both proactive and preventative when it comes to employment legal issues.
After spending six years in her own practice and a year with Willis and Willis Co., Young joined Worley Law in October of 2012. Soon after, she started her free programs which have helped the firm become “less litigation, and more proactive and offensive.”
Young says the programs are intended to help employers recognize and address their most significant employment challenges, including balancing exempt versus non-exempt employees, discrimination, wrongful discharge, discipline and termination.
“A large majority of employers are trying to do the right thing,” she says. “Very few are trying to discriminate or withhold payment. They just don’t understand the laws, which are growing and becoming increasingly complex.
“Sometimes they don’t know where to go to ask the question, or they don’t know the questions to ask.” Some of those questions include:
Have you classified employees correctly for wage and hourly law?
Do you have an employee handbook in place?
Is it sufficient to provide communication and liability protection?
What other policies and procedures are in place?
Young says she often starts with clients by identifying what gives them the most headaches with employees: lack of commitment, discipline, morale, everyone showing up tardy. She then works backwards to identify legal rights and responsibilities, as well as a practical responses.
“There is so much in employment law you can do proactively to…protect yourself from liability and comply with the law,” she says. “Once you are on the defense, you can only work with the problem that is in front of you. When someone comes in proactively, I can help them change the future.”