We’ve come a long way, maybe

by Susan G. Fentin

I’m old enough to remember a time when sexual harassment wasn’t illegal, in the era before the courts began to apply Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to such claims. I have vivid memories of getting a “back rub” from a manager in the small office where I was doing temporary secretarial work during a college vacation. It was, frankly, creepy, but I had no real recourse. I needed the job, and from a practical standpoint, there really wasn’t anyone I could complain to. From a legal standpoint, sexual harassment didn’t become actionable under Title VII until 1977, and it wasn’t until 1988 that the courts began to consider “hostile work environment” a valid claim of sexual harassment.  Sexual harassment

Now, of course, hostile work environment is a term that covers all forms of harassment focused on or because of an individual’s membership in a protected class, and it’s also used by employees who are merely objecting to a boss they believe is harsh or unreasonable or a workplace environment that’s toxic because employees just don’t get along. But you would think employers have learned that sexual conduct in the workplace is simply too risky to tolerate.

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Referral bonuses, diversity, and disparate impact liability

by Andy Rodman

Q My company is having difficulty attracting qualified candidates for high-tech positions. We’re considering implementing a referral bonus policy, under which a current employee would be paid $500 for referring a candidate who is hired. Is this type of policy legal?  Many People Hands Holding Red Word Bonus Blue Sky

A There is nothing inherently illegal about a referral bonus policy. In fact, many companies have successfully implemented such policies to attract and retain qualified employees. Some studies have shown that employees hired through word of mouth are less likely (perhaps up to 15 percent less likely) to quit.

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Nonreligious observance may require religious accommodation

by Maggie LeBato and H. Mark Adams

Both federal and state laws prohibit employers from discriminating against employees because of their religion. The courts have further ruled that the prohibition against religious discrimination requires you to accommodate your employees’ sincerely held religious beliefs unless it would cause undue hardship to your business. You might assume, then, that for an employee to prove religious discrimination, she would have to demonstrate both the sincerity of her belief and that the belief is actually “religious” in nature. According to a recent decision from the 5th Circuit in New Orleans, however, that isn’t necessarily the case. Church

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Unemployment rate for veterans at lowest point since 2008

On March 24, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released unemployment numbers showing that the 2014 unemployment rate among military veterans dropped to its lowest point since 2008. Employers’ recognition of the strengths that veterans bring to the workforce is at least one factor for this drop in unemployment. Veteran at Work

Numbers continue to improve

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Categories: Just the Facts


The tragedy at Emanuel AME

by Rick Morgan

Today’s current events are rife with bad news. The despicable and senseless murders at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, do not end at the doors of this historical house of worship. The event, however, does bring into focus an issue that our country and workplaces continue to wrestle with on a daily basis—that of race.  Stop Hate

I will digress for a moment to talk about two points. In 1968, as a college freshman, I was fortunate to be able to earn a spot on our college’s basketball team. I was one of the 12 who got to travel and dress for away games. When we traveled, our coach would pair up players to share rooms for the night. One time, he came to me and told me he needed me to share a room with one of my teammates, which I was happy to do. The coach explained he was pairing us together because I was the only one who he felt would have no objections to the room assignment, which I did not. My teammate was black, and I am white. It really shouldn’t have mattered, but that was the unfortunate state of race relations in the 1960s.

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Military downsizing and recruiting opportunities: What HR should know

June 14, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

As the nation’s military continues its downsizing phase and unemployment statistics for veterans remain significant, attention is turning to efforts intended to help veterans find jobs. Civilian employers have been focusing on ways to recruit former service members, and more than a handful of states have passed laws in recent months to allow employers to give preference to veterans not just in government jobs but in the private sector as well.  Portrait of a young man with split careers businessman and soldi

Steven Parker, vice president of customer success and business transformation at Achievers, an employee rewards and recognition platform, has a message for human resources professionals trying to bring veterans into their ranks: Change your focus.

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Categories: Feature

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Employers may be liable for transgender discrimination

by Ryan B. Frazier

The legal landscape related to sexual orientation and gender identity has been shifting in recent years. The impact of same-sex marriage on employers and other topics involving homosexual employees and their partners have been featured in previous issues of this newsletter. Recent lawsuits and statements by key governmental officials have now placed transgender/gender identity discrimination and other issues at the forefront. Transgender

There is no universally accepted definition of “transgender.” The term usually refers to an individual whose gender identity does not match his or her biological gender. Transgender is sometimes confused with sexual orientation, but gender identity is an independent issue. Further, some transgender people may undergo medical procedures to physically align their gender to their gender identity. As this article illustrates, employers need to keep an eye on this rapidly changing area of the law.

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Recent events confirm racists, misogynists are not extinct

by Dinita L. James

Last July, the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The focus rightly was on how far we have come as a society in eliminating discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex.

Close on the heels of that celebration, however, recent events provide some distressing reminders that bigotry is not dead.

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How to respond to an employee who mentions suicide

by Kaitlin L. Hillenbrand

Q One of our employees recently told the HR director that she “prays for death every night.” Is there anything we are legally required to do in response?  golden gate emergency phone

A A condition that causes an employee to become suicidal may be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In that case, it would be an unlawful discriminatory practice to take adverse employment actions based on her condition, and she may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation. If an employee states that she “prays for death every night,” it might be best to initially address the situation under the assumption that she has a condition covered under the ADA.

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Supreme Court rules against Abercrombie & Fitch in headscarf lawsuit

by Charles S. Plumb

On Monday, June 1, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and against Abercrombie & Fitch Stores Inc. in a religious discrimination lawsuit involving a Muslim job applicant at its Tulsa store. In some ways, the Supreme Court’s decision may have the unintended result of causing some employers to ask applicants and employees about their religious beliefs or trigger unfortunate workplace stereotyping.  middle eastern college girl

Religious discrimination

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