Don’t let appearance policy trigger religious discrimination claims

October 16, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Achieving a diverse workforce is a highly touted goal among employers. It’s a goal that drives recruiting as well as efforts to build company culture. But the details – the various policies and rules employers may adopt without considering riskscan be easy to overlook. One area not to be forgotten: dress codes and other appearance policies that sometimes pose religious discrimination risks. Busy Arabian businesspeople in the factory

Most employers wouldn’t intentionally adopt policies targeting certain religious groups, but seemingly neutral policies can still pose a threat. For example, can an employer legally prohibit beards, tattoos, head coverings, the wearing of religious symbols, etc.? Usama Kahf, an attorney in the Irvine, California, office of the Fisher Phillips law firm, took on that question in a recent Business and Legal Resources webinar titled “Preventing Appearance-Based Discrimination: Legal Guidelines for Protecting Religious and Cultural Groups.”

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New EEOC guidance should remind employers to guard against retaliation

September 18, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

No employer trying to build diversity in its workforce is likely to get very far if its culture tolerates discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against employees based on race, gender, age, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law. Not only does such a culture work against recruitment and retention of diverse talent, it also invites legal trouble. That’s why employers are taking a close look at new guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) addressing retaliation claims.  Dangerous handshake

The EEOC issued its new guidance on August 29, replacing previous guidance released in 1998. In addition to the guidance document, the EEOC also released a question-and-answer document and a fact sheet for small business. The material from the EEOC follows a surge of retaliation claims in recent years.

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A story with legs: Fox News’ $20 million settlement provides warnings for employers

by Mark I. Schickman

Fox News understands the life of a news story. It knew that former anchor Gretchen Carlson’s claims of sexual harassment against its former CEO and chairman Roger Ailes would draw headlines for months, as would the ultimate resolution of the claims. In news parlance, Carlson’s claims had “legs.” So, too, would reports of a major settlement of the action. On September 6, Fox News compressed the story of Carlson’s suit with news of the $20 million settlement of her claims—hoping both stories would rise and fall over Labor Day and become a dim memory long before election night.  Sexual harassment

Fox News acted quickly to jettison Ailes, the actor prominently named in Carlson’s lawsuit. It also announced new sexual harassment policies and now touts a culture that no longer tolerates the type of blatant harassment reported by numerous women after Carlson’s story broke. It issued a public apology “that Gretchen was not treated with the respect and dignity that she and the rest of our colleagues deserve.”

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Don’t leave older workers out of retention plans

August 14, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Employers nowadays may feel bombarded with advice on how to retain millennial employees. Those younger workers have the reputation of moving from job to job, so employers wanting to get the most from the investment they make in their youngest employees put a lot of energy into encouraging them to stay. But what about older employeesthose who are weighing the pros and cons of retirement, maybe wondering if they’re still appreciated? Are those workers also worth special retention efforts? And, if so, what should employers do?  Elderly business man with gears and ideas

“There is no substitute for experience,” Susan G. Fentin, an attorney with the Skoler, Abbott & Presser, P.C. law firm in Springfield, Massachusetts, says “Employees with a long record of experience with a company will undoubtedly have contacts in the industry that are invaluable. Any type of knowledge that is built up over time is generally hard to replace, so keeping employees on staff after what might otherwise be retirement age would work to the company’s advantage.”

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Understanding strengths, weaknesses of bipolar employees

July 17, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 1 COMMENTS

Disabilities of all types pose challenges for employers and employees alike. As employers struggle to find ways to help employees with disabilities do their jobs, they also must fulfill obligations created by laws designed to prevent discrimination and violate privacy. Like other disabilities, bipolar disorder presents its own unique challengesconcerns that will be explored in a Business and Legal Resources webinar set for July 28 titled “Employees with Bipolar Disorder: HR’s Roadmap for ADA Accommodations and Practical Issues.”  Human Emotion

Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive disorder, causes people to experience varying highs and lows as well as changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. A bipolar employee may be wildly creative and productive sometimes and disruptive and nonproductive at other times, meaning employers see great strengths and frustrating weaknesses all wrapped up in the same employee.

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Need workers? First lady touts talents of veterans and military spouses

June 19, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

As July 4 approaches, many employers are anxious to declare a holiday so their employees can enjoy the nation’s birthday festivities. But when the fireworks are over, they may be looking to hire the kind of talent so often celebrated on Independence Dayveterans and military spouses.  Smiling young businessman shaking hands with a soldier

Many employers have come to appreciate the diversity of experience that people with military ties can bring to a business. And first lady Michelle Obama, along with Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President Joe Biden’s wife, hope their Joining Forces initiative helps even more employers bring on veterans and military spouses.

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Gender diversity in the workforce: What’s holding women back?

May 15, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A number of well-intentioned corporate executives—with their eyes squarely on the bottom line—are taking action to increase gender diversity at all levels of their organizations. Confident they’ll see a payoff, those top managers are making sure women’s ideas contribute to their organizations’ strategic thinking. Despite strong efforts, though, recent research notes a lack of progress.  Torso Equating One Female Worker With Three Males

In March, global management and consulting firm McKinsey & Company reported in its McKinsey Quarterly that statistics collected from 30,000 employees at 118 North American companies representing nine industries reveals three “common pipeline pain points”: (1) Women often are unable to enter an organization, (2) sometimes they’re stuck in an organization’s middle ranks, and (3) sometimes they’re locked out of top jobs.

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Switching gears: Shifting to reverse can rev up workplace mentoring

April 17, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Researchers report that the millennial generation now makes up the largest share of the U.S. workforce. To be sure, the baby boomer and Generation X contingents remain strong, but the sheer number of younger workers makes them a force to be reckoned with. Longtime workers may think their young colleagues have a lot to learn, but employers are finding the youngest workers also have a lot to teach.  Two Women Working At Computer In Contemporary Office

Flipped, or reverse, mentoring is one way employers can cash in on the wisdom their youngest workers bring to the workforce. Mary George Opperman, vice president and chief human resources officer at Cornell University, is scheduled to present a talk called “Reverse Mentoring: Building Meaningful Intergenerational Relationships in the Workplace” at the Business and Legal Resources THRIVE 2016 Annual Conference, scheduled for May 12-13 in Las Vegas.

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Unconscious bias: Employers learning how to fight problems they don’t see

March 20, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Efforts to create more diverse workplaces have landed on many employers’ radar screens in recent years. The tech industry, notably, has been exposed as being overwhelmingly male and white, leading some of those influential employers to do some soul searching. They and employers in an array of other fields have devised programs resulting in improvement, but they acknowledge that more progress is needed on the diversity front.  Stereotype

Now that many employers have implemented programs aimed at hiring, retaining, and promoting a diverse workforce, a new termunconscious biasis coming into the spotlight. But how can employers fight something if they’re not conscious of it? If people don’t even see their biases, they’re fighting blind. That may sound nearly impossible, but those who have studied the issue have identified ways to start.

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Fairness in diversity programs: Know how to avoid a backlash

February 14, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Employers and academics alike have long touted the value of diversity in the workplace. But diversity efforts also have detractorsa fact born out in December when criticism was heaped on the CEO of Sam’s Club after she spoke out about her commitment to building her own diverse leadership team and encouraging the same from her company’s suppliers.  Team Diversity

Diversity backlash

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