Today’s post provides examples of workplace issues involving workers’ national origin and provides points for employers to consider as they manage national origin issues in the workplace. Examples National origin discrimination claims can arise from lots of different circumstances. A fairly classic set of facts is presented in a November 2016 suit brought by the EEOC. The agency alleges that a temporary staffing firm segregated Latino workers in less desirable, more hazardous positions, paid them less, and provided fewer hours than their non-Hispanic counterparts. When the Latino workers complained about ongoing harassment including ethnic slurs, threats, and verbal abuse, the staffing firm did nothing. In 2015, the EEOC brought suit against National Tire & Battery in a case involving facts that[…]

Allegations of sexual harassment continue to attract media attention and commentary, including ours. As we review developments, we note that a wide variety of workplace behaviors are being challenged and scrutinized. Legally actionable sexual harassment takes many forms, from the classic quid pro quo claims included in the Sterling Jewelers case to the innuendo claimed in Gretchen Carlson’s suit against Roger Ailes and Fox News, to inappropriate greeting cards. Last week we learned that hugging, if it is unwelcome and pervasive, can create a hostile work environment and that a University president can be forced to resign by allegations of inappropriate “abrazos,” or embraces. Sexual harassment in the workplace is conduct or communication of a sexual nature that is unwelcome[…]

A recent study about telecommuting echoes an old adage: Misery loves company. While the option of working from home makes employees happier and often more productive, it may have the opposite affect on those still stuck at the office. Perhaps it’s just the mere thought that their coworkers get to pass the day in their pajamas and see their kids before 7 pm, that they don’t have to get up, get dressed, make the drive, and rush to get things done at lunch. The study didn’t really get into those details, just that employees that remain at work while coworkers telecommute tend to be less satisfied and have a lower probability of remaining with the company. The greater the prevalence[…]

I apologize, I am sorry, my mistake, my bad, oops… Part of being human is making mistakes. Many times when we make a mistake it causes harm to others either physically or emotionally, and as a result, we find our selves in a situation where we must apologize for those mistakes. As an HR consultant, I am frequently faced with situations where a disgruntled employee feels that the company has wronged him or her in some way, shape, or form. If the emotional impact is great, then the employee may seek legal action against the company, but in many cases, the employee just wants a simple, heart felt, “I’m sorry”. At my Texas based PEO, I often find that employers[…]

In the contemporary workplace human resources are highly valued. Employers understand, employees make or break the success of a company and therefore seek to ensure employees are able to maintain a consistent level of productivity. The health and well-being of employees is important to the modern employer. Wellness programs are becoming commonplace within working environments. Wellness programs are implemented by a third party company that takes care of the health and well-being of employees within the company. Employee wellness programs vary from health screening and nutritional advice to fitness programs and education. Companies employ these third party agencies to try to offset the cost of rising medical cover for their employees. Wellness programs are designed to ensure the physical well[…]

Human Resources Directors are often charged with hiring employees, ensuring that the employee is properly trained, and delivering the bad news when the employee is not working out. HR Directors are usually the last ones to know that a problem employee has now become the company’s worst workers’ compensation claim ever. Many managers assume that Human Resources and Risk Management are synonymous; they are not. The impact of HR decisions are often felt on the desk of the workers’ compensation adjuster, who can become embroiled in unnecessary litigation because someone did not weigh both the HR decision and the risk management exposure. Unfortunately, adjusters are often forced to manage the claim and manage the HR issues simultaneously. I often find[…]

Some of the challenges associated with traditional job descriptions is they capture roles, accountability, and requirements, as they are known at the time the description is written. As a general rule they are not directly linked to the organizations vision, mission, objectives, and metrics. If we are to maintain descriptors of the work should they (at a minimum) – Connect the work to the mission, vision, goals, and metrics? Be future focused, describing the work as aspirational? Include the collaboration required to achieve results? If you believe the answers are yes, then perhaps your organization should consider what I am going to call “Success Profiles.” As HR organizations continue evolving toward a focus on organizational performance, it is critical to[…]

Microsoft is one of the wealthiest and most successful companies in the world. Even more important, from a human resource perspective, is the fact that Microsoft is an employee-driven organization. While other organizations base their success on better manufacturing techniques, or better technology, Microsoft’s success is based on the effectiveness of their employees. Essentially, Microsoft value their staff and realize the importance of their staff. This focus on employees may, in the future, expand to all organizations. Microsoft then, is worth studying as an example of best practice in human resource management. This study will focus on Microsoft’s employee management methods including how they recruit and how they retain their staff. By looking at how Microsoft operate, there is opportunity[…]

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them in FLSA Compliance The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 was a monumental piece of labor legislation that forever changed the face of business in America. For one, it established a national minimum wage (25 cents) for the first time. For another, it mandated the payment of overtime wages for most employees who do not fall under certain exempt categories. Finally, it regulated child labor on a nationwide basis, another first. In fact, that legislation spawned the appearance of mandated labor law posters in the workplace. Then, as additional labor and employment laws were passed over the decades, including the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and then the Occupational Safety and[…]

BYOD

Employers are abuzz about a new acronym being discussed at the water cooler—“BYOD.”  No, it doesn’t have anything to do with parties or beverages.  It stands for “Bring Your Own Device,” and it signals the movement by employees to use their own cutting edge electronic devices at work.It sounds like a great idea.  An employee who is tech savvy gets a new device—iPad, Smartphone, laptop—and wants to use it for work projects to be more efficient or to work remotely.  Or even to ease the pain of juggling so many different electronic devices.   So why not just hook them up to the network?  That’s what many employers are doing.  And they are doing so without thinking first and certainly, without[…]

You’ve almost certainly read about the girl who cost her father an $80,000 settlement by posting about it on Facebook.  If you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the short version: The plaintiff reached an $80,000 settlement for alleged age discrimination with his former employer, but before the settlement is paid, his daughter posts “Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver.  Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”  When the employer found out, it refused to pay the settlement, and the court agreed. This case provides a good example to employers, or any defendant for that matter, why they should include confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements.  After all, one of the main purposes[…]

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) can cause a lot of difficulties for employers.  Thankfully, once you have successfully determined whether each of your employees is exempt or non-exempt, you are done, right?  Unfortunately not. Under the FLSA, you cannot base the amount of money you pay your salaried employees on the number of days or hours he or she works.  In other words, you generally cannot deduct money from an exempt employee’s paycheck for time off work.  But, surprise, surprise, there are exceptions to the general rule… You are permitted to dock an exempt employee’s pay: for a week when the employee does not perform any work for a day or days that the employee is absent for reasons[…]

Smoking has become a very important topic for employers recently. More and more employers, particularly in the healthcare industry, are refusing to hire smokers. This is by no means a recent development, as companies like Turner Broadcasting have been refusing to hire smokers for over twenty years. However, in the last few years, with rising healthcare costs, employers are seeing a ban on hiring smokers as a way to reduce costs. It is common knowledge that smokers are one source of high costs for many employers. According to the American Lung Association, smokers cost the economy over $193 billion each year, and employers could save an estimated $3,400 per year for each employee who quits smoking. Insurance rates are significantly[…]

The United States Department of Labor estimates that 30% of employers are misclassifying employees as independent contractors, which results in billions of dollars in lost revenue every year. Citing a desire to minimize losses in contributions to unemployment insurance funds, protect workers’ rights and “level the playing field” for employers that abide by the law, the DOL has launched the Federal Misclassification Initiative, where they are partnering with the IRS and a number of state governments to share information. The memoranda of understanding contain an agreement to share information, in order to determine when workers are being misclassified.  The cooperative efforts will likely lead to multi-pronged scrutiny and enforcement proceedings. The initiative will ensure that a worker classified as an independent contractor[…]

When a Texas employee believes he or she has been discriminated against at work because of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information under a number of federal laws, they can file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. All of the laws enforced by the EEOC, except the Equal Pay Act, require an employee to file a charge before filing a job discrimination lawsuit. The employee must bring the charge within 180 days from the day the discrimination took place, or within 300 days if a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis. With allegations of age discrimination, the filing deadline[…]

Two recent cases, one from the plaintiff’s side and one from the defendant’s side, highlight the importance of following information retention requirements. Recently, Heather Painter learned a difficult lesson about deleting. Ms. Painter claimed that her boss, a dentist, sexually harassed her. After filing her lawsuit, she deleted some Facebook comments that (allegedly) said she loved her job and working for the dentist. Ms. Painter claimed that she did not know it was improper to delete the comments, but the court disagreed. Deleting the posts was a deliberate act, and the court could not infer that she deleted comments, that were detrimental to her case, for an innocent reason. The judge decided that the jury should infer that the Facebook[…]

One of the most popular trends in the IT world right now is the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) approach, where employees use their own mobile device at work. Its another case of new technology creating new problems. Before implementing a BYOD policy, you need to weigh the risks against the cost benefits. IT departments have spent years working on desktop security and trying to prevent data loss via web and email, but employees are increasingly accessing corporate data with their own smartphones and tablets. As a result, employers have much less control over the security protecting their corporate data. Unlike desktops, very few people have protection against viruses and malware on their smartphones and tablets. Thirty-seven percent of IT decision makers reported that[…]

Computer policies used to be fairly simple: no personal emails, no surfing the internet on company time, and especially no porn. Now, with social media and “the cloud,” there are so many more avenues for trouble. One of the more prevalent issues recently has been who owns Twitter followers when an employee leaves.  The issue is particularly thorny when the employee was hired to manage the employer’s official Twitter account.  The employer will argue that the followers belong to it, because the employee’s job was to send out tweets and increase the number of followers. On the other hand, the employee will argue that the Twitter followers belong to him or her, because they put in all the work to[…]

Alright, alright, alright… After a very entertaining and high-ly informative #nextchat about medical marijuana in the workplace, I started thinking about some of the points made today and decided that I’d like to expand on some of the ideas thrown around.  And I’ll  try to avoid more bad jokes and puns, but no promises… The Sky Isn’t Falling Even with the passage of bills in your state allowing medical marijuana, it isn’t the end of the world as we know it.  After all, it’s not as if your employees are going to run out to get medical marijuana cards and start smoking up at work.  For the most part, you won’t have any employees that need medical marijuana.  And even[…]

A great deal has been written in the last week about whether you should monitor your employees’ social media activity. A lot of very smart folks fall on both sides of the debate, since it can be a rather murky issue involving a balancing act between protecting the company and respecting employees’ right to act as they wish in their time off work. Notice that I didn’t say employees’ privacy. Little, if anything, shared via social media is private, so monitoring social media can hardly be deemed an invasion of privacy. So now I’ll offer my two cents on the subject: it probably isn’t worth it to actively monitor your employees’ social media accounts. Doing so would require a great[…]