Humana Adopts Policy Against Hiring Smokers in Arizona

August 14, 2011 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

By David I. Weissman

Many employers are seeking to control escalating health care costs and improve worker productivity by implementing policies that promote employee wellness. As a result, policies that discourage employees from smoking have become increasingly popular. Some companies have gone a step further and decided they won’t hire smokers at all. This includes health insurance giant Humana, which recently announced that it will no longer hire workers in Arizona who smoke or use other tobacco products.

Issuing New Policy in Arizona

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Categories: Diversity Trends

Praying in the Workplace

August 14, 2011 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

A recent case from the federal trial court in Gulfport, Mississippi, dealt with a certified nursing assistant (CNA) who claimed she was discriminated against based on religion. She alleged that she was subjected to a hostile work environment and fired for reporting religious harassment. The court discussed some interesting points in its decision.


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Categories: Legal News

Labor Day 2011: September 5

August 14, 2011 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

Labor Day  “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers” according to the Department of Labor (DOL). Some historians contend that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first to a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” Others believe that machinist Matthew Maguire started the holiday. The DOL notes, “Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.”

No matter it’s origin, it is now tradition for the first Monday of September to be celebrated as Labor Day. Here are some facts from the U.S. Census Bureau on the workforce the DOL says “constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country”: read more…

Categories: Just the Facts

Dress Code Considerations for a Diverse Workforce

July 17, 2011 - by: admin 2 COMMENTS

By Carolyn A. Wade

Society’s standards (or lack thereof) regarding clothing and grooming have certainly changed over the last 50 years. Taking a trip on an airplane used to mean “dressing up” and wearing the kind of clothes you would wear to church ― a suit and tie or a dress and heels. Now people fly in sweatpants and sneakers and regularly wear jeans to church. Some employees would happily wear nothing but sweatpants or jeans to work if their employers would let them.

For some employees, personal appearance ― including hairstyle, jewelry, tattoos, piercings, and head coverings as well as clothing ― is a form of self-expression. Religious mandates can also affect an employee’s appearance. Employers are confronted not only with excessively casual appearance but also with other extremes: looks that are too suggestive, too political, too dangerous, too bizarre. What’s “slightly sexy” to one person can be “downright vulgar” to another. So what’s an employer to do? How far can you go in regulating your employees’ appearance?

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Lawmakers Try to Address Workplace Gender Identity Issues

July 17, 2011 - by: admin 2 COMMENTS

Gender identity disorder is a medically recognized condition in which a person’s gender identity doesn’t match his genetic sex. In some cases, the recommended standard of care is counseling and sex reassignment therapy, which includes representing yourself as the gender corresponding to your identity, hormone replacement therapy, and, eventually, gender reassignment surgery.

Although federal law still doesn’t explicitly prohibit transgender discrimination, don’t assume that a transgendered employee has no legal protection. Some federal courts have been allowing transgendered people to proceed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 based on certain legal theories. In addition, many state and local laws either expressly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or include gender identity within their definition of “sex.”

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Egyptian Copt Claims Race and National Origin Discrimination

July 17, 2011 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, you are prohibited from discriminating against individuals based on several protected classes, including race and national origin. In the following case, an Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) physician claimed that his ethnicity and national origin prompted the revocation of his hospital privileges. Read on to learn how the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (which includes Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) handled his claims.

“Sham” Peer Review Leads to Federal Court Case

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A Look at America’s Disabled Population as the ADA Turns 21

July 17, 2011 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

July 26 will mark the 21st anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which guarantees equal opportunity for people with disabilities in public accommodations, commercial facilities, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. Here are some statistics about disabled Americans from the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • There are 36 million disabled Americans, representing 12 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population.

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Categories: Just the Facts


How to Match Millenials with Mentors: Part 2

June 19, 2011 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

Last month, Allison Duke discussed the unique aspects of the Millennial workforce and the benefits of having a traditional mentoring program for these workers. Since Millenials aren’t traditional workers, this month, she explores other ways of structuring your mentoring program, starting with . . .

Reverse Mentoring

With reverse mentoring, Millennials are matched with executives who can benefit from the younger employees’ skills. For example, Millennials have more experience with social media than any other generation, and they can be a tremendous asset to executives who need insight into new ways to reach their customers. read more…

The Rule Is ‘English only’! Capice?

June 19, 2011 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

By Lauren M. Cooper

A much-debated issue is whether you may lawfully require employees to speak only English in the workplace. The simple answer is yes. This article will address the circumstances in which you may legally enforce an English-only policy and the potential legal risks that follow.

Status Quo Ante

Employers increasingly ask employees to refrain from speaking languages other than English in the workplace to promote productivity and efficiency and preserve workplace harmony. Certainly, a policy that targets only a particular language or national origin, such as a “non- Spanish” policy, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on national origin. But what about rules requiring employees to speak English while on the job? read more…

Is Obesity a Disability? Jury’s Still Out, but It’s a Serious Matter

June 19, 2011 - by: admin 1 COMMENTS

Even though there’s no definitive rule on whether obesity is a disability under the amended, more employee-friendly Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you should be careful about how you treat overweight and obese employees. One in every three Americans age 20 and up was obese between 2007 and 2008, and about the same percentage was overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One state, Nevada, was considering legislation this year to outlaw discrimination based on physical characteristics, including weight, and survey research published in the journal Obesity and reported in the Orlando Sentinel indicated support for laws against discrimination based on weight.

The U.S. district court in New Orleans has been asked to rule on a recent lawsuit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming a woman was illegally fired because of obesity in violation of the ADA. The employer has denied liability, and a trial is set for March 2012. The new ADA doesn’t explicitly say obesity is a disability, but it relaxes the definition for an impairment that substantially affects a major life activity, the cornerstone of ADA protection. That makes it easier for an employee to establish she is disabled and entitled to the Act’s protections ― a reasonable accommodation to perform the essential functions of the job and protection from adverse workplace decisions based on bias. read more…

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