All Eyes on Arizona

July 18, 2010 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

Arizona’s new immigration law, Senate Bill (SB) 1070, authorizes state and local law enforcement officials to inquire into the immigration status of any person “where reasonable suspicion exists that the person is an alien who is unlawfully present in the United States.” The law regulates aliens directly, not by means of the employer-employee relationship. Nevertheless, many people believe that the new law is preventing employers from hiring Hispanic workers for fear of workplace disruption.

The Problem

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Categories: Feature

White House Expands Domestic Partner Benefits

July 18, 2010 - by: admin 0 COMMENTS

President Barack Obama recently issued a memo directing federal agencies to extend benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of federal employees to the extent permitted by current law. The memo begins:

For far too long, many of our Government’s hard-working, dedicated LGBT employees have been denied equal access to the basic rights and benefits their colleagues enjoy. This kind of systemic inequality undermines the health, well-being, and security not just of our Federal workforce, but also of their families and communities.

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Categories: Diversity Trends

Administaff Pays $115,000 For Religious Bias

July 18, 2010 - by: admin 1 COMMENTS

Administaff, Inc., a nationwide company that provides full-service HR services to small and medium-size businesses, has agreed to pay $115,000 and furnish substantial remedial relief to settle a religious harassment lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in Baltimore.

According to the EEOC’s suit, Texas-based Administaff and Conn-x, LLC, a Florida-based cable service provider, violated federal law by engaging in religious discrimination against two employees at Conn-x’s Edgewood office. The agency alleged that two Conn-x employees, who are brothers, were called “dirty Jew[s],” “dumb Jew[s],”and other anti-Semitic slurs by managers and coworkers.

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Categories: Legal News

Maintaining Your Competitive Edge

You should encourage and manage diversity in your workplace — not because it’s politically correct (and the right thing to do), but because it helps you improve and maintain your competitive advantage. Today’s fast-paced business world and ever-changing technology have taken employers beyond traditional boundaries, sometimes forcing you to adjust to differences in culture quickly. For example, an international buyer who saw your web page may want to propose a contract for your company’s product or services. Here are some reasons you should consider developing a diversity program.

Encourage Diversity

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Categories: Feature

Does Banishing Scents Make Sense at Work?

It seems that the number of people with allergies or sensitivities to various scents and smells has grown substantially. Some of those allergies can be severe, causing severe respiratory difficulties and other serious health issues. Questions continue to arise about the often competing rights of allergic employees and coworkers who wish to be able to eat what they want and use whatever hygiene and personal products they choose. Read on for the most recent information on this conflict for employers.

Are ‘Scent’ Allergies Protected Under the Law?

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Categories: Flashpoint

DOL Examines English Proficiency Project

The Department of Labor (DOL) has released a report evaluating its Limited English Proficiency and Hispanic Worker Initiative project.The program was launched in 2006 with $4.9 million awarded to organizations in California, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, and Texas so they could test innovative strategies for delivering language and employment services to limited English proficient and Hispanic workers.

The findings highlight both challenges and successes of the pilot project, which will serve as a guide for similar future employment programs and provide insight for employers seeking to offer occupational skills to prepare workers for jobs in high-demand industries. According to the report, factors critical to the success of the program include active engagement by employers to adapt a curriculum tailored to meet their specific workplace requirements and employers’ ability to provide incentives for program completion to limited English-proficient and Hispanic program participants.

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Categories: Agency Insight

Lawyer Who Denied Access to Service Dog Gets Bit

By Keeya M. Jeffrey

The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado recently approved a consent decree resolving a lawsuit filed by the Colorado Department of Justice against a Colorado Springs lawyer who refused to allow a woman, her husband, and her lawyer access to his office for a deposition because the woman brought her service dog. The lawyer feared the dog would ruin his newly installed carpeting. The Justice Department argued that the lawyer’s refusal to allow the woman and her dog access was a violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Under the consent decree, the lawyer will pay the woman and her husband $40,000 in damages, pay $10,000 in civil penalties, and adopt and enforce a policy compliant with the ADA’s provision on service animals. Given the penalties and damages assessed against the lawyer, one can only hope the carpet was of really good quality. What follows is a primer for employers on federal and the applicable Colorado state law concerning service animals.

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Categories: Legal News

Overcoming Language, Hearing Obstacles for Safety’s Sake

May 16, 2010 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

By Jason Bohanan

Communicating with employees is essential to the health of any business. Daily communication between management, supervisors, and front-line employees helps keep every aspect of the business running, from planning meetings to ensuring everyday assignments are completed. Unfortunately, no method of communication is perfect. Communication breakdowns, such as lost memos and unchecked voicemails, can hamper almost every department within a company.

For employers, communicating detailed safety procedures with large numbers of workers can be difficult. Finding the most effective method of reaching employees and ensuring the lines of communication remain open takes work and innovation. Many firms, however, are encountering two relatively new obstacles to reaching workers: language barriers and hearing impairments. Companies are hiring more employees who either cannot speak English fluently or have hearing impairments than in the past. Unfortunately, many of these businesses have not planned how to provide adequate safety training to workers who have trouble communicating.

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Categories: Feature

Gender Identity Protection Resurfaces in Federal, Local Laws

By Lorraine Yeomans

Recent actions by President Barack Obama’s administration and a flurry of new local laws are reviving discussion on the issue of gender identity (sometimes also referred to as gender expression) discrimination. Since 1993, when Minnesota adopted the first state law protecting against discrimination based on gender identity, employers have been doing their best to modify workplace practices to ensure compliance with gender identity and often-related sexual orientation protections. This has not always been an easy task, and employers are often confused by the distinctions these laws create.

As you’re probably already aware, neither sexual orientation nor gender identity are protected classes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As a result, many state and local governments have specifically included provisions for sexual orientation and/or gender identity in their non-discrimination laws. Because these state and local laws often encompass one or the other (sexual orientation or gender identity), but not always both, it is important for employers to understand the distinction between the two terms.

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Categories: Diversity Trends

Unexpected Demographics of the 2007-10 Downturn

A Wall Street Journal analysis of recent data sets reveals unexpected characteristics of current employment losses. The last 10 years have seen an increasing parity in employment among men and women, but because the majority of women came into the job market later, it was expected that layoffs — following a last-in/first-out pattern — would hit women harder. Quite unexpectedly, however, more than 70 percent of the jobs lost since December 2007 were held by men.

One factor seems to be that the downturn hit manufacturing and construction hardest and men disproportionately are employed in these sectors. (In 2007, men represented 93 percent of construction and 72 percent of manufacturing employment.) The near collapse of U.S. auto manufacturing reduced the ranks of employees of the Detroit Three and their domestic supply chain. And construction had become overstaffed during the building boom because of easy mortgages. Many construction and auto supply companies were exhausted and undercapitalized, and they simply went out of business, lacking the will or resources to attempt to preserve their core workforces through reduced hours and alternative employment.

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Categories: Flashpoint

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