Mexican Worker Warned to “Speak American” Gets Trial

May 17, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

Marcial Avila worked for Jostens, Inc., a yearbook publisher, in its Topeka, Kansas, facility from 1995 until September 2003. His duties included counting yearbooks, packing them into boxes, and printing and affixing shipping labels. He is a legal resident of the United States but was born in Mexico and spoke Spanish as his primary language.

In February 2003, Avila’s supervisor, Jim Keeffe, issued him a warning for boxing 900 calendars without drilling a top hole in them as required. A few months later, in May, Avila received another warning, this time for failing to do quality checks on a shipment, kicking boxes, and glaring at a coworker. Avila disputed the allegations in the warning, so a meeting was held with Avila, his interpreter, Keeffe, a Jostens employee relations representative, and a union rep. During the meeting, Keeffe told Avila’s interpreter to be quiet and told Avila to “speak American.”

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Categories: Legal News

May: Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

May 17, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

In 1978, a joint congressional resolution established Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week. The first 10 days of May were chosen to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed on May 10, 1869. In 1992, Congress expanded the observance to a monthlong celebration. Per a 1997 Office of Management and Budget directive, the Asian or Pacific Islander racial category was separated into two categories: one being Asian and the other Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander.

Here are some facts about each group from the U.S. Census Bureau:

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Categories: Data Points

Diversity Programs Important During Recession

Now is not the time to kill your diversity program. According to new research from George Mason University, workplace discrimination actually increases in an economic downturn. A recent study by Eden King, an assistant professor of psychology at the Fairfax, Virginia, college, found that competition for fewer jobs and resources often forces minority groups to the outside.

For instance, King and her coresearchers found that when white women and men were told that the economy was going to tank and were then asked to evaluate four equally qualified job candidates, the majority selected the white male candidate. When they were told that the economy would improve, however, they tended to favor the female Hispanic candidate.

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Categories: Feature

Helping Introverts Help the Company

Managers often hire people who mirror them behaviorally; when they don’t, they tend to get frustrated and criticize the employee because of his or her work style. Performance-based concerns are valid, but if the employee is “getting the job done,” it’s a different matter. Diverse work styles and thought processes, say experts, can offer a team a broader perspective and better solutions.

One of the most underutilized types of employee? Introverts, says Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength. “With an appetite for talk and attention, extroverts dominate the workplace,” she says. “Meanwhile, introverts — with their quiet smarts and successes — sit on the professional sidelines, routinely ignored, overlooked, and misunderstood.”

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Categories: Ideas for Leaders

EEOC Reports Job Bias Claims at New Record

April 19, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that workplace discrimination charge filings increased 15 percent last year to an unprecedented level of 95,402. While the agency stated that it didn’t know if this was a trend, it was an indication of a persistent problem.

All of the main categories of charge filings with the EEOC increased, but the number of charges based on age and retaliation had the largest annual increase. In its report, the EEOC stated that the increase in filings may be attributable to many factors, “including economic conditions, increased diversity, and demographic shifts in the labor force, employees’ greater awareness of the law, the EEOC’s focus on systemic litigation and changes to EEOC’s intake practices.”

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Categories: Agency Insight

Firefighter Gets $1.1 Million for Discrimination

April 19, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

The Second Appellate Division of the California Court of Appeal recently upheld a jury verdict exceeding $1.1 million against the Pasadena Fire Department for subjecting a firefighter to a fitness-for-duty examination and retiring him, failing to provide a reasonable accommodation for his perceived disability, and failing to engage in an interactive process.

Firefighter Loses Racial Harassment Lawsuit . . .

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Categories: Legal News

Largest Minority Group Often Most Overlooked

March 15, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

At 20 percent of the population, people with disabilities are America’s largest minority group.

“They carry a second distinction of being America’s most invisible population,” says Wayne McMillan, president and CEO of Bobby Dodd Institute (BDI), an Atlanta-based nonprofit providing career services and job training for the disabled. “Instead of an uproar,” he says, “their chronic underemployment is a largely unspoken issue.”

BDI’s recent national survey, Disability in Our Daily Lives, gauged the perception of people with disabilities in the American workplace. The results show that 86 percent of survey respondents felt people with disabilities face hiring limitations. Among numerous barriers facing this population, respondents cited cost of accommodating (54 percent), lack of knowledge about accommodations (53 percent), and insufficient knowledge of people with disabilities (49 percent) among reasons why employers are reluctant to hire from the disability talent pool.

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Categories: Feature

Launching a Diversity Initiative? Ask These Five Questions

March 15, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

Just having a diversity program won’t instantly solve all your problems.

“Diversity is not simply a means to an end, but rather, an ongoing journey that evolves over time,” says Jennifer Melton, an EEO/diversity management consultant for F&H Solutions Group, an affiliate of Ford & Harrison LLP. “The idea that the implementation of these initiatives will automatically facilitate change or dispel any notion of discrimination is an unrealistic proposition.”

But with a lot of time and tenacity, she says, greater diversity in thought, experience, and communication can gradually emerge from within an organization.

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Categories: Ideas for Leaders

Religious Diversity Challenges Employers, EEOC

March 15, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

Several food-processing plants across the country have been in the news as they grapple with the requests of increasing numbers of Muslim workers seeking religious accommodations. Three disputes — all at meatpacking plants — centered on prayer breaks, especially important at Ramadan. During that month (which varies from year to year because it’s set on a lunar calendar), Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and can eat only after a sunset prayer. At a Tennessee plant, an employer faced a backlash from employees when the union contract swapped out Labor Day for an end-of-Ramadan holiday, Eid al-Fitr. Employees have sought exceptions to rules on uniforms, saying it’s against their religion to wear slacks, and asked to be excused from handling pork on religious grounds.

How are these companies dealing with employees’ religious needs, and what can all employers learn from their experience? We’ll look at two recent situations and examine the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) revision of its compliance manual on religious discrimination, prompted by the growing religious diversity of the American workplace and a rise in religious discrimination claims.

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Categories: Agency Insight

Trucking Company Must Pay $2.4 Million for Discrimination

March 15, 2009 - by: Diversity Insight 0 COMMENTS

An interstate trucking firm has agreed to pay $2.4 million and provide other remedial relief to a class of women to settle a major sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to the EEOC, beginning in 1997, PittOhio Express, Inc., denied a class of qualified female applicants employment as truck drivers or dockworkers. Instead, men filled the positions during the period in question.

In addition to the significant monetary settlement, the trucking firm has agreed to (1) make offers of employment to women who previously should have been hired as drivers and dockworkers, (2) provide equal opportunity training to all supervisors and managers, and (3) monitor and report on the status and outcome of its training efforts.

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Categories: Legal News

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