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May 31, 2013

HR Fact Friday: New York Club Settles Exotic Dancer Employment Claims

Filed under: Salaries & Pay — Tags: , 6:00 am

I recently read that a “gentlemen’s” club in New York City has agreed to pay almost $9 million to settle a case brought by some 1,200 of its current and former exotic dancers who claimed they had been misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees. The plaintiffs also claimed they were not paid overtime or minimum wage, that their fees were confiscated and that the employer failed to pay for their…wait for it…uniforms. Stripped down to its bare bones, this lawsuit is clear evidence of the naked truth about employment law…no one is immune.

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May 29, 2013

Sink or Swim – No Two People are Alike!

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:00 am

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was designed to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, as well as various other public sector arenas.   For the ADA to afford protection to an individual, he must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, have a history or record of such an impairment, or is one who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.

An employer has particular obligations to employees and applicants with disabilities.  An employer may not ask questions about an applicant’s disability before making a job offer, and it requires that employers make reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities, unless it results in undue hardship.  Reasonable accommodations require several things, but we are going to focus on these two:

  • Treat the person as an individual.  Don’t make comparisons or generalize their disability.
  • Commit to and engage in the interactive process.

A recent case to consider is that of Nicholas Keith who became certified as a lifeguard in Oakland County, Michigan.  Keith was offered a lifeguard position with the county contingent on a medical exam, but was later rejected.  I should mention that Nicholas Keith was born deaf and cannot speak.  After a doctor examined Keith and a consulting firm performed a job-analysis for the tasks he would perform as a lifeguard, both determined he could not do the job.  Keith sued the county for allegedly violating the ADA.  The district court dismissed the case, but the appeals court upheld his case and sent it back to the district court to be reviewed again.  One of the things the appellate court considered in its determination was that the county did not engage in an interactive process with Keith.  Rather, the county accepted the opinion of the doctor and consultant instead.  Interactively conversing with Keith to determine if there were any reasonable accommodations of which he was aware that would allow him to be a lifeguard could have saved the county a lot in legal fees.  If the county would have asked him, Keith could have told them has the ability to detect loud noises because he has a cochlear implant!

The takeaway is not to judge someone by what we think we know.  Communicate with your employees and applicants to whom you have made an offer, who may need accommodations that are not hardships on your company.  Both you and your employees will benefit!

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May 24, 2013

HR Fact Friday: First GINA Lawsuits Filed

Filed under: EEO — Tags: 9:32 am

The EEOC has filed what is believed to be the first two lawsuits under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA). GINA prevents employers from demanding genetic information, including family medical history, and using that information in the hiring process. In the EEOC”s first lawsuit (which was settled for $50,000 right after filing), the plaintiff was a temp working as a memo clerk for an Oklahoma fabrics distributor. When her temporary assignment was coming to an end, she applied for a regular job in that position. The employer made an offer of employment and sent the plaintiff to its contract medical examiner for a pre-employment drug test and physical. At the physical, the employee was required to fill out a questionnaire and disclose the existence of numerous separately listed disorders in her family medical history (e.g. heart disease, hypertension, cancer, tuberculosis, diabetes, arthritis and “mental disorders” in her family). The lawsuit followed after the company rescinded its job offer.

Regarding the lawsuit, EEOC General Counsel David Lopez said, “Employers need to be aware that GINA prohibits requesting family medical history. When illegal questions are required as part of the hiring process, the EEOC will be vigilant to ensure that no one be denied a job on a prohibited basis. “In the second lawsuit, according to the EEOC, a New York employer (a nursing and rehabilitation center) conducted post-offer, pre-employment medical exams of applicants, which were repeated annually if the person was hired, and as part of this exam the employer requested family medical history, a form of prohibited genetic information.

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May 22, 2013

Is Stress Affecting Your Employees’ Job Performance?

Filed under: Work/Life Balance6:00 am

Stress is a very normal part of life.  It can be helpful when we have deadlines to meet or need to accomplish a task quickly.  However, there is the other side of stress that is harmful.  When we experience harmful, long-term stress we will begin to see physical manifestations of the constant barrage of stress hormones on our bodies.  Long-term stress causes depression, anxiety, pain, heart disease, and various other maladies.  Stressors such as public speaking, being late, money worries, or conflicts with coworkers can affect individuals differently.  It is good to note that something stressful to one person may not be stressful to someone else.

Managers usually notice when an employee is not happy.  Productivity can decline when an employee is stressed whether at work, at home, or both.  It is important to address any productivity issues early by helping employees identify and resolve concerns that affect job performance.   Managers can help if they keep the lines of communication open between themselves and the employee.  These few steps may prove to be invaluable in managing stress and improving productivity:

  • Prioritize tasks – - Such action reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed.
  • Reduce clutter – - Both physical and mental clutter can lead to a sense of hopelessness and exhaustion.
  • Focus/concentrate – - Complete only one task at a time without the distraction of interruptions, i.e. email, television, mobile devices.
  • Plan ahead – - List activities and mentally frame them as to how they will be completed. (Expect that even the best laid plans may not come to fruition, so have a back-up plan!)
  • Relax – - Granting yourself time to relax, interact socially, and to foster close friend and family relationships will do wonders for reducing stress levels.
  • Be positive – - Make a conscious effort to be positive at home and work. Positive people live longer!

Achieving work/life balance by reducing stress is essential to one’s livelihood.  Take stress seriously and don’t wait until you become a burned out member of society to make yourself healthy and happy!

Check out the tips for managing stress and share them with your employees!

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May 20, 2013

The Lazy Hazy Days of Summer are Approaching

Filed under: General HR Buzz3:38 pm

After our long winter, everyone is most likely ready for some nice, warm weather.  Accompanying the warm weather may be “work-dread” days where employees would rather be spending time outside than in the office, precipitating a higher volume of sick call-ins.  What are some reasons (besides nice weather) that may generate increased absences, which in turn cost your company money?

  • Legitimate Illnesses.  This is real life, so we know some employees will become ill.  Many companies have instituted wellness programs to educate and encourage their workforce to make healthier choices, whether through formal or informal programs within their organization.  A recent survey conducted by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index indicated absences as a result of employees with chronic health conditions accounts for a yearly bill of $84 billion in lost productivity.  That may provide enough motivation to take a look at offering some type of wellness initiative.
  • Low Morale.   Let’s face it.  Some employees just don’t want to be at work…for a variety of reasons.   You may gain some insight by opening dialogue with employees on a regular basis to find out what they like or don’t like about their job or the company.  Provide options for employees to voice their concerns, perhaps through a suggestion box or small group meetings with supervisors and management.  The important thing to remember is to listen and respond.  If you solicit feedback, you don’t necessarily need to implement every idea but you should find some opinions that warrant further consideration.
  • Work Environment.  Perhaps the cause for the sick day call-in is to avoid dealing with another coworker, attendance at a school function for a child, or a problem supervisor.  If either of these are the case, some changes in work environment may be the solution.  Personnel issues, whether between coworkers or supervision, need to be addressed timely and appropriately.  Oftentimes providing flexibility in work schedules can solve other issues regarding scheduling time off for family events.

Whatever the reasons are, absences are expensive for employers.  Hopefully the above items will generate some ideas to reduce absenteeism and still provide opportunities for employees to enjoy the warm summer days.

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May 17, 2013

HR Fact Friday: Reminder on Unpaid Interns

Filed under: Salaries & Pay — Tags: , 6:00 am

With summer on the approach, remember to be cautious in bringing aboard any unpaid interns. The bottom line on interns is that they must be paid unless they are basically just watching, i.e. the organization cannot derive any immediate advantages from the activities of the intern. Most employers will pay interns because they typically cannot set up a scenario where they derive no benefit from an intern’s work.  Click here for the link to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) fact sheet.

This fact sheet lays out this test for unpaid interns. It reads: “There are some circumstances under which individuals who participate in ‘for-profit’ private sector internships or training programs may do so without compensation. The Supreme Court has held that the term ‘suffer or permit to work’ [under the Fair Labor Standards Act] cannot be interpreted so as to make a person whose work serves only his or her own interest an employee of another who provides aid or instruction. This may apply to interns who receive training for their own educational benefit if the training meets certain criteria. The determination of whether an internship or training program meets this exclusion depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of each such program.

The following six criteria must be applied when making this determination:

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.”
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May 15, 2013

How Important is Employee Engagement?

Filed under: Engagement10:59 am

Employee engagement is closely linked to employee motivation.  Employees who are motivated are more likely to consistently perform their best work.  They become positive assets for their company by daily demonstrating their satisfaction and engagement with their work.  Gallup recently researched employee engagement.  They defined “Engaged” employees as those that “are deeply involved in and enthusiastic about their work and actively contributing to their organization.”  Conversely, employees who “are ‘not engaged’ may be satisfied but are not emotionally connected to their workplaces and are less likely to put in discretionary effort.  ‘Actively Disengaged’ [employees] are emotionally disconnected from their work and workplace and jeopardize their teams’ performance.”  Think about those definitions for just a minute.  Do you have employees that are not engaged that could be?  Do you have actively disengaged employees that may need to be off-boarded?

The poll showed that 36% of managers and executives were “Engaged” in their jobs, which was a 10% increase compared with their results in 2009.  The least engaged were in the manufacturing and transportation industries.  The statistics nationwide indicated that overall 30% of employees are “Engaged,” 18% are “Actively Disengaged,” and the remainder, representing the majority, are “Not Engaged.”

These statistics can be alarming to employers who are coasting along thinking all their employees are happy and satisfied.  What can be done to motivate and achieve engagement in employees?  While many organizations try to “buy” their employees through increased wages and benefits packages, such are short-lived.  Salary and benefits are tangible and important to employees, but work best to attract and retain the top talent.  True motivation and engagement tools come through intangible efforts, such as praise and recognition, challenging work over which they have control, respect, and growth opportunities.  When employees see these regularly practiced in the workplace, they are much more likely to be engaged and compatible with the organization, helping to reap big dividends!

Source:  www.gallup.com

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May 13, 2013

NLRB poster appealed – for now!

Filed under: General HR Buzz9:41 am

Over the past year and a half, we have been following the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) proposal which would have required virtually all employers to post a notice about employees’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).  Those blogs can be found at these websites.

http://www.hrnblog.com/2012/01/06/hr-fact-friday-nlrb-poster-deadline-postponed-again/

http://www.hrnblog.com/2011/10/21/hr-fact-friday-nlrb-posting-deadline-delayed/

The rule, which was issued in 2011, was never implemented because of court challenges.  After going to the appeals court, a ruling was issued on May 7 that the Board exceeded its authority in its effort to require employers to post a notice of employee rights under the NLRA.  Probusiness groups are cheering, as the notice posting rule was expected to lead to more unionization and continued NLRB enforcement activity, especially for nonunion groups.

Will the NLRB appeal to the Supreme Court?  It is possible that could happen.  For now, however, employers no longer need to worry about the NLRB posting rule.  We will keep you updated on any future developments.

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May 10, 2013

HR Fact Friday: Challenges Facing HR Over Next 10 Years

Filed under: General HR Buzz6:00 am

HR professionals say that the three biggest challenges facing HR executives over the next 10 years are retaining and rewarding the best employees (59%), developing the next generation of corporate leaders (52%), and creating a corporate culture that attracts the best employees to organizations (36%). This research also explores investment challenges, talent management tactics, evolvement of the workforce, and critical HR competencies and knowledge.

Do you share these concerns? HRN solutions and consulting services can help. .

Source: SHRM. To review the complete report go to www.shrm.org.

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May 9, 2013

HRN Exhibiting at SHRM 2013 June 16-18

Filed under: HRN News3:54 pm

HRN Performance Solutions will be exhibiting at the upcoming SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition taking place at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, IL June 16-18. Stop by booth #2019 and visit with HRN representatives and view demos of our Compease and Performance Pro solutions. If you are interested in attending, to receive a free exhibit hall access pass.

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