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How to Reduce Risk of Lawsuits and Workplace Conflict

Laws governing hiring, firing, sexual harassment and performance evaluations can turn the human-resources field an obstacle course.

But a new online employment-law training system can help company supervisors reduce the risk of lawsuits and workplace conflict.

Training Today, a series of courses offered by M. Lee Smith Publishers, consists of a video presentation focused on any of a dozen issues that may confront human-resource professionals. Along with a dramatization of real-life workplace situations, each video includes commentary by reputable employment-law attorneys.

“The courses resonate with trainees because the scenarios are completely believable and up-to-date with the workplace of 2009, and the instructors never talk down [to] their audience,” says Dan Oswald, president of M. Lee Smith Publishers.

Each course is led by Mark Schickman and Linda Walton, both longtime employment-law attorneys.

Based in San Francisco with the firm Freeland Cooper and Foreman, Schickman specializes in employment and labor law, and provides advice to companies on avoiding liability. Walton, counsel with the law firm of Perkins Coie in Seattle, devotes a significant part of her practice to providing day-to-day advice on employment-law compliance matters, and the design and presentation of employment-law training programs.

Among the courses offered by Training Today are those on hiring, wage-and-hour law, workplace violence, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), discipline, firing and privacy. In the 30-minute videos, the lawyers avoid jargon when explaining how supervisors should address these human-resource-related issues. Each course also includes an interactive quiz to test the trainees' retention level.

“And as the courses are…available 24/7," they are "perfect for working into a busy supervisor’s schedule,” Oswald says.

Training Today’s programs can be integrated into existing corporate learning-management-system (LMS) applications. Training Today also comes with its own LMS, should the user need one, requiring only that the human-resource or training manager assign courses to individual supervisors using the system’s online interface.

Training Today then sends notices and reminders and reports back on trainee-completion success and quiz performance.

The 35-year-old Brentwood, Tenn., firm provides information resources to the corporate human-resources and legal markets. Publications include Federal Employment Law Insider and 50 state-specific Employment Law Letter newsletters, the online information service HR Laws, and the DVD-based training system for supervisors, First Line of Defense.

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