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August 28, 2014

ADA After FMLA – What Does Your Leave Policy Say?

A New Jersey healthcare provider will pay over $1 million to resolve claims before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that it committed disability discrimination. According to the EEOC, since the employer’s leave policy merely tracked the requirements of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), employee leaves were limited to a maximum of 12 weeks.

The employer’s policy meant that employees who were not eligible for FMLA leave were fired after being absent for a short time, and many more were fired once they were out more than 12 weeks, all without additional consideration of whether the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) required some additional accommodation, including additional leave.

Managing both FMLA and the ADA can be quite tricky at times.  Additional leave after FMLA is exhausted is considered a reasonable accommodation under the ADA guidelines and must be factored in to an employee’s recovery or health management resolutions.  Whether an employer extends leave or not could be a million dollar question!

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August 21, 2014

Recruiting Top Talent – Is the Recession the Only Blame?

Filed under: General HR Buzz,Hiring & Jobs9:59 am

The national average of time to fill an open position in June reached 24.9 working days, including the time to post, source, and hire.  Compared to the recessionary period in the summer of 2009, the time to fill has increased by nearly ten days, when the average was 15.3.

During the recession the talent pool was overflowing with applicants.  Hundreds of r­ésumés flooded recruiters in response to a single job posting.  The response left recruiters thinking they could be choosy and wait for the top talent to show, which generally during the recession worked.  Now, other problems are factoring in to the long time-to-fill open positions, such as:

  • Waiting too long to make an offer risks the loss of the top candidate.
  • Unable to find skilled workers in the talent pool.
  • Expecting no learning curve, thus fostering an unwillingness to accept candidates that may need only minimal training.
  • There is simply more job openings, 4.7 million at the end of June, compared to 4 million in June, 2013. 

Employers should examine recruitment and hiring processes to ensure they are streamlined and efficient and make changes wherever they find obstacles.  Performing this self-audit will clearly define the company’s acceptable standards for recruitment and hiring and will help find and hire a solid, talented workforce quickly.

 

Source:  Zappe, John. “Employers Find That Time-to-Fill Job Rates Are Growing, Hit 13 Year High.”  Available here.

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August 14, 2014

If It Looks Like Retaliation – It Probably Is!

Filed under: Discrimination,Legal Issues,Title VII — Tags: 7:39 am

An interesting case from Salt Lake County, Utah, recently caught my attention.  The county was facing a sexual harassment claim.  The complainant’s coworker, Michael Barrett, helped her successfully win her case.  Barrett is a hero, right?  Wrong.  Shortly after assisting his coworker, Barrett was demoted.  Now, if that wasn’t enough to scream, “Retaliation!” the county hired a replacement for his previously held position.

Barrett, now knowing his way around the justice system, filed suit against the county alleging his demotion was a retaliatory action and violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The county argued that he was poor worker.  However, Barrett successfully presented evidence of his 14 years with the county having received multiple promotions and positive performance reviews – until that fateful moment when he began helping his distressed coworker.  The court ordered that Barrett be paid the same amount of pay in his new, demoted position that he had received in the old job, and that the newly hired, innocent employee not be removed from Barrett’s old position.  The county, of course, appealed.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, whose rulings govern Utah employers, upheld the previous court’s decision.  They agreed that Barrett had presented sufficient evidence to demonstrate that he had been retaliated against by the county.  The 10th Circuit also agreed that the trial court had ordered an appropriate remedy to Barrett and the new hire.

Notable in this case was the supervisor’s actions.  HRLaws.com reported that, “The disciplinary proceedings that resulted in his demotion began almost immediately after his ‘supervisor learned of his involvement in the sexual harassment complaint.’”  Interestingly enough, other witnesses that were involved in the case were disciplined and the supervisor who administered some of the disciplinary actions lost the records for them.  Convenient.

Employers should be aware that employees have the right to complain about illegal treatment in the workplace.  They have the right to assist other employees, as witnesses, in a claim.  Any adverse employment actions against a complainant or a witness should be taken with extreme caution (and experienced legal counsel) so the action doesn’t even appear to be retaliatory.

 

Source:  www.hrlaws.comUtah – Employment Law Letter

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August 7, 2014

Retailers Increasing Minimum Wages

Filed under: Compensation,General HR Buzz2:01 pm

Home furnishings retailer, Ikea, recently announced an overhaul to their wage structure that will increase their average minimum wage to $10.76 per hour by January 1, 2015, which is a 17 percent increase, and is well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.  The increase will not be adjusted across the board, but will be a market-based adjustment from $8.69 per hour to $13.22 per hour depending on the cost of living in the city in which the store is located.  Ikea estimates that about half of its United States workforce will benefit by the increase which will be based on the MIT Living Wage Calculator.

Rob Olson, Ikea’s acting president for the United States and its chief financial officer was quoted as saying, “We are of course investing in our co-workers.  We believe they will invest in our customers, and they will invest in Ikea’s stores.  We believe that it will be a win-win-win for our co-workers, our customers and our stores.”  Ikea’s goal is to promote a “better everyday life” for their people.

Gap is another retailer that will be increasing its minimum wage to $10 per hour January 1.  This specialty retailer had set its minimum wage at $9 per hour in February.  Their new wage policy will benefit more than two-thirds of its 90,000 U.S. employees.  Gap reported more than a 10 percent increase in their applications for employment after they announced the increases.

Both retailers have a great desire to help their workers, and even though the minimum wage increases are a large investment, it is one they feel will help them reach their organizational goals and have a positive impact on the bottom line.

 

Source:  Greenhouse, Steven.  The New York Times.  “Ikea to increase Minimum Hourly Pay.”  Available here.

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