5 Tips for Avoiding Prohibited Professional Practices

In the private sector, we see companies soar or plummet after a crucial management decision becomes known. Their mere survival is closely tied to the public perception of difficult choices. For the Federal Government, the stakes are even higher because American taxpayers finance their work. Each agency or organization has a specific purpose. If any of them fail to succeed, we all lose. Here are a few tips to help you avoid HR compliance missteps:

1. Comply with all security policies and procedures – Can you justify overriding official policy to permit an ineligible person to get a Personal Identity Verification (PIV) credential? Is it right to expedite a security clearance by choice? When our collective safety and security is at stake, it is better to err on the side of caution.

2. Do not mix official business with politics – It would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the Hatch Act, which limits certain political activities of Federal employees, and others who work with Federally-funded programs. The Hatch Act aims to ensure that Federally-funded programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion, without political coercion, and that any employee advancement is wholly based on merit, not political affiliation. ​​​

3. Handle every allegation of misconduct according to an established procedure – to ensure equal treatment for all, it is essential that every organization and agency develop standard procedures for reporting and handling allegations of misconduct. The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) provides a list of organizations and agencies that handle complaints.

4. Avoid any appearance of special treatment in hiring – Protect yourself and your organization by ensuring that all hiring decisions are unrelated to current, past, or prospective personal or familial relationships. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) offers a Hiring Process Analysis Tool to walk managers through the hiring process.

5. Familiarize yourself with the do’s and don’ts of interviewing – Since the introduction of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers have been prohibited from employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) offers the following practical advice:

  • Limit questions to subjects that are essential for determining if an individual is qualified.
  • Do not ask candidates for photographs or inquire about their race, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability status, or ancestry.
  • Unless it is job-related or a bona fide occupational qualification (BFOQ), avoid asking candidates about their height, marital status, pregnancy, medical history of pregnancy, future childbearing plans, number and/or ages of children or dependents, provisions for childcare, abortions, birth control, ability to reproduce, and name or address of their spouse or children.

While these tips may seem like common sense, each example was pulled from a recent article about how these mistakes wreaked havoc in a Federal workplace. At Management Concepts, we help you increase your knowledge about these and many other human resources and leadership issues in classroom and online courses. In addition, we offer coaching and consulting services. Learn more about how Management Concepts can help you avoid prohibited professional practices as you strive to accomplish your mission.

Written by:
Natalie Komitsky
Human Capital & Human Resources



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