Not funny: mocking coworker’s spouse’s religion

by Zachary D. Morahan

The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, 2nd Department, recently issued an important decision in which it held that an employer faced liability under the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL) for allowing employees to mock the religious beliefs of a coworker’s spouse. This case has important ramifications for both public and private-sector employers.  Not Amused

Background

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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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What HR can do to prevent workplace violence

by Jonathan R. Mook

News reports of yet another workplace shooting have become all too frequent in our media-saturated world. The seemingly constant reports of shootings makes clear to all employers the inconvenient truth that no workplace is totally immune from the possibility that a violent incident will occur. Indeed, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), more than two million Americans are exposed to some form of workplace violence each year. What are your obligations to protect your employees from acts of violence, and what steps should you take to make your workplace as safe as possible?  Businessman with knife

OSH Act obligations

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Paid parental leave policies gain traction

by Kelly Boehner

There is no federal law in the United States mandating paid maternity or parental leave. Currently, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides for 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave for the birth or adoption of a child or the placement of a child in foster care. Employees are eligible to take FMLA leave if they have been with your company for at least 12 months, worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months, and work at a location where your company employs at least 50 people within a 75-mile radius. The time away from work is unpaid, but companies must continue to provide an employee with the same health insurance benefits during his leave and must place the employee in either the same position or a position with equivalent pay and benefits upon his return to work. Young Asian Chinese family with 5 month old son

State-paid leave

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Recent settlement highlights EEOC’s focus on vulnerable workers

by Jeffrey D. Slanker and Rob Sniffen

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) highlights several areas in which the agency is increasing its focus, including the protection of vulnerable immigrant and migrant workers. That focus was recently underscored by the agency’s settlement of a case involving allegations of national origin and race discrimination against an Alabama employer that employed Indian workers through the federal H2-B program. EEOC-jpg

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Handling harassment: What constitutes a hostile work environment?

by Joanna Vilos

Employees sometimes complain about undesired or harassing conduct that does not rise to the level of a hostile work environment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A decision from a Wyoming federal court reveals which steps employers can take to avoid liability and how employers can defend themselves from an employee’s allegations.  Manager putting his hand on the shoulder of his secretary

Hostile work environment claims

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Getting past the threat of sexual harassment in the workplace

January 17, 2016 - by: Tammy Binford 1 COMMENTS

As employers strive to create diverse workforces, they need to think beyond just attracting employees from varied backgrounds. It’s just as important to think about how to retain a diverse group. Taking steps to prevent sexual harassment is one way to make sure talented and productive employees don’t flee work environments they find uncomfortable, even unlawful.Business Man Subtly Sexual Harrasing The Business Woman

Recognizing sexual harassment is the first step. Gone are the days when a typical case involved a male boss chasing a female secretary around the office, or workers in a male-dominated workplace posting a calendar displaying risqué pictures in the breakroom. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, tasked with enforcing antiharassment law, and courts now recognize many more situations that fit the definition of sexual harassment. So employers need to take concrete steps to reduce their risk regarding subtle as well as blatant harassment.

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Team up with your employees for the new year

by Robert P. Tinnin, Jr.

What do you do when employee morale is at an all-time low? As we all know, it is hard to produce positive outcomes with a workforce that has a negative attitude. I am a firm believer that there is a direct correlation between the level of employee involvement in identifying and addressing workplace issues and the degree of success achieved by efforts to fix those issues.Personal development

It seems elementary that if your employees know the limitations on resources available to address workplace issues, they will be the key to developing the most effective ways of prioritizing and addressing issues within identified parameters. Once employees buy into the concept that they are expected to own the issue and are involved in addressing it, morale is bound to improve. Even if there are not sufficient economic resources to fully address and remedy all issues, employees will know that their employer cares about them and is looking to them for solutions. Here are suggestions to help turn employees’ outlook and involvement to a more positive tone this year.

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When a good employee makes a bad mistake

by Mark I. Schickman

Brian Williams was NBC’s news superstar, appearing on programs ranging from 30 Rock, Saturday Night Live, and The Tonight Show. He was a beloved regular on the talk show circuit. Since 2004, he was heir to a line of NBC news chiefs flowing from Chet Huntley and David Brinkley through John Chancellor to Tom Brokaw.  Fixing Mistakes

But, next to good looks and a good voice, perhaps an anchor’s most essential job qualification is credibility–being the most trusted news source in America. If people don’t believe you, they’re not going to look to you for the news. So Williams’ world collapsed in early February when questions surfaced about an embellished version of a war story in which he claimed to be riding in a helicopter that was “hit by ground fire.” He made similar comments about surviving “a close call in the skies over Iraq,” “com[ing] under fire,” and “look[ing] down the tube of an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade launcher].”

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Employer’s workplace violence memo violated employee rights

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