Guidance for HR when racial tension spreads from streets to workplace

December 14, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

As protests rage around the country following recent grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York not to indict police officers involved in the deaths of two unarmed black men, employers may find tension spilling into the workplace.

In November, a grand jury decided not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb. Witnesses claim the 18-year-old unarmed Brown was trying to surrender when the officer shot him, but the officer claimed Brown was the aggressor.Workplace Argument

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Alcoholism, alcohol abuse, and the workplace―navigating legal risks

December 14, 2014 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

By Holly K. Jones

Q We administer a voluntary leave program through which workers can donate paid leave to their colleagues to obtain necessary medical treatment. Recently an employee asked to use the program to seek substance abuse treatment for alcoholism. This isn’t the type of treatment we had in mind when we established the program. Are we required to allow this?

Q We have an employee in a high-risk, safety-sensitive position who recently admitted to extreme alcohol abuse. We are now concerned that he, his colleagues, and our company are at risk because we can’t depend on his work. We’d like to discharge him, but we’re unsure of the legal risks.  Alcoholic

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What does the immigration executive action mean for employers?

by Christine D. Mehfoud

Whether the president’s recent series of immigration-related executive actions will survive potential legal challenges and congressional action remains to be seen. For now, set aside your political views (while I love a good political debate, this space is for practical business implications), and let’s focus on how the executive actions will affect employers.  Immigration reform

What does the executive action include?

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Return-to-work woes: EEOC challenges medical release requests under ADA, GINA

by Geoffrey D. Rieder

In a lawsuit filed in September, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleges that a Minnesota-based power company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) by requiring an employee returning from medical leave to execute overbroad medical release forms for a fitness-for-duty medical examination. In EEOC v. Cummins Power Generation, currently pending in the federal district court in Minnesota, the agency asserts that the employer violated both the ADA and GINA when it attempted to obtain certification that the employee was medically qualified to return to work from medical leave. The EEOC’s aggressive approach in this case suggests that employers may be well-advised to review policies and practices governing employees’ return to work following medical leaves of absence.  PrivateMedicalInformation

Background

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EEOC brings first lawsuits alleging transgender discrimination

by Arielle B. Sepulveda

On September 25, 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed two lawsuits, the first actions by the agency in which it has alleged that discharging an employee because she is transgender constitutes discrimination on the basis of sex and therefore violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In light of the increasing societal and judicial recognition of LGBT rights, employers must be aware of the potential workplace issues faced by employees who don’t conform to traditional gender norms.  Transgender

Background

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Putting tests to the test: Exploring personality assessments and discrimination

November 16, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A quest to find and hire the best applicants prompts many employers to look for ways to quickly eliminate all but the most promising candidates. When online job postings unleash a flood of applications, many employers turn to software that includes personality testing as a way to reduce the amount of valuable time needed to pore over resumes.  Personlaity Tests

A recent report in The Wall Street Journal exploring whether personality tests discriminate against applicants with disabilities is garnering a lot of attention. And in the face of lawsuits and an investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), some employers are changing their tests or rejecting them altogether.

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Sign of the times: Jill Abramson, the New York Times, and pay equity

by Mark I. Schickman

The New York Times is the second largest newspaper in America, with about two million papers sold each day. It’s also the liberal beacon of American journalism, with solid-gold progressive credentials. Still, it took the paper 160 years to hire Jill Abramson as its first female executive editor in 2011.  Pay Inequality

In May, Abramson made the surprise announcement that she was leaving that post. Neither she nor the Times expanded on that announcement, except to say that she would be replaced by Dean Baquet, the first African American to take the position. Applying the usual termination formula, neither employer nor employee would discuss the matter, hoping the issue would pass with little comment. You would think the New York Times would be able to manage the news. Not so.

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California at epicenter of rise in disability access cases against small businesses

by Matthew A. Goodin

In addition to allowing disabled employees to sue their employers for discriminating or refusing to provide reasonable accommodations, both federal and California law allow disabled persons to sue businesses and places of public accommodation for failing to comply with a myriad of accessibility requirements, such as having wheelchair ramps or the proper number of handicapped parking spaces. While the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows only for the recovery of attorneys’ fees and not damages, California’s law allows plaintiffs to recover a minimum of $4,000 in damages in addition to attorneys’ fees. It’s no wonder that more than 40 percent of all disability access cases filed in the United States are filed in California.  Disabled Access

Federal, CA law set access requirements

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Marriage equality comes to Arizona (and 16 other states in 2014)

by Dinita James

On October 17, 2014, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne issued a directive to the state’s 15 county clerks that they could begin immediately issuing licenses for same-sex marriages. With that letter, Arizona became the 30th state to permit same-sex marriage and recognize same-sex marriages celebrated in other states and countries.  Horne’s action came near the end of a dramatic two weeks that saw the number of states recognizing same-sex marriage rise from 19 to 32 by the end of the day on October 17, when Alaska and Wyoming also joined the parade (the number climbed to 33 on November 12 when a judge ordered South Carolina officials to stop enforcing a ban on same-sex marriage). With 17 states making same-sex marriage legal in 2014 and appeals in progress in 7 of the remaining 17 states with same-sex marriage bans, a closer look at the Arizona shift can be instructive for many employers.  Same-sex marriage Arizona

Waving the white flag

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Measuring the impact of your diversity and inclusion investments

October 19, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Diversity, inclusion, metrics. In the world of human resources, those are buzzwords to be taken seriously. But to truly make a contribution to an organization, HR needs to analyze the meaning of each one. Mary L. Martinez, director of diversity and inclusion practice at APTMetrics, Inc., advises organizations on how to benefit from diversity and inclusion efforts through assessment, engagement, and measurement. On November 18, she will be leading a Business & Legal Resources webinar titled “Maturing Your Diversity & Inclusion Metrics: Measure What Matters.”  Metrics

Employers have found that having a diverse group of employees where various races, cultures, ages, and genders are represented and feel included can lead to a productive, cooperative workplace. And devising the right metrics helps organizations achieve goals.

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