Risk or reward? Ex-offenders present challenge to employers

May 17, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

In a quest for workforce diversity, employers go to great lengths to reach out to people of various races, ethnicities, genders, ages, and backgrounds. But they’re not so likely to reach out to those who have spent time in prison. Yet employers often express a desire to be good corporate citizens that “give back” to their communities. Businessman chained to a large ball

So to hire someone once incarcerated for a crime represents a risk since ex-offenders may slip back into their old ways. But to hire people struggling to get back on their feet, support themselves and their families, and generally contribute to their community can be a risk worth taking, even rewarding for employers.

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Employers risk damages, civil money penalties for improper I-9 and E-Verify procedures

by Mary Pivec

Employers face a high cost if they are accused of engaging in discriminatory employment verification procedures. The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Discrimination (OSC) in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has made it a priority to pursue employers that allegedly misuse or abuse their access to the E-Verify program and unlawfully discriminate against applicants and employees in hiring and termination on the basis of their citizenship status or engage in document abuse.  Employment Verification Information

Employers suspected of a pattern or practice of discriminatory employment verification procedures could face months of costly investigation and be forced to pay civil money penalties, back wages, and punitive damages. What’s more, they could be barred from participating in the E-Verify program, lose the right to do business in some areas, and face debarment from federal contracting rights.

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Here come the feds! POTUS, DOJ, DOL, and EEOC weigh in on LGBT issues

by Geoffrey D. Rieder

Significant expansion of the antidiscrimination protections afforded to members of the LGBT community was accomplished in 2014 through executive action by President Barack Obama, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and the attorney general (AG). The push for more protection of LGBT employees culminated in two lawsuits in which the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) challenged the layoff and termination of employees undergoing gender transition procedures. The EEOC’s litigation posture, bolstered by executive action, suggests that employers should anticipate increased enforcement activity in this unsettled area.  Pride flag at city hall

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has always prohibited discrimination, harassment, and retaliation “because of sex” and “on the basis of sex.” Some states have adopted statutes that broaden that concept to include not only “sex” but also “sexual orientation [and] gender identity.” Although Title VII doesn’t explicitly prohibit sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, the EEOC has now taken the position that discrimination based on gender identity (specifically, a “change in gender”) is discrimination “based on sex.” Similar pronouncements are found in the EEOC’s “Strategic Enforcement Plan, FY 2013-2016,” issued on December 17, 2012. However, many federal courts around the country have ruled that the language of Title VII doesn’t extend to the issues encompassed by the new executive actions.

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Adverse employment action because of accent is illegal

by Joseph Cooper

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids discrimination on the basis of national origin in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, and job assignments. Because an employee’s accent or language skills are often associated with her national origin, employment decisions based on those characteristics are scrutinized closely by courts and administrative tribunals. A recent decision from the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights (RICHR) illustrates that point.  Time for a conversation

Teacher wants to take English classes

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EEOC releases FY 2014 enforcement stats

by Christopher J. Pyles

According to newly released statistics from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the state in which the most administrative charges were filed in fiscal year (FY) 2014 was Texas, which had more than 8,000. Where did your state rank?  Statistics!

Discrimination by the numbers

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Women at work: Exploring pay equity, making work and life mesh, and HR’s role

April 19, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Nobody expects climbing the corporate ladder and earning a top-tier paycheck to be easy for anybody. But an array of statistics shows that fewer women than men get to the top rungs and that accounts for part of the reason women earn less.  Portrait of modern graphic designer woman

Statistics showing that women make up half the workforce without achieving half the top-level positions spark at least three important questions for employers and their human resources professionals: Why are women not making it to the corner office, how can the pay gap be addressed, and should HR be doing more?

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It’s time to get on the winning side of the sexual orientation issue

Not long ago, I heard a story about George Wallace, Alabama’s governor in the 1960s and one of the leading advocates for Jim Crow laws and segregation. He is well-known for his “stand at the schoolhouse door,” where he attempted to prohibit two black students from registering for classes at the University of Alabama. The story was told through the eyes of his daughter, who is now 63 with a family of her own. She talked about trying to overcome her father’s reputation and how she now works to promote racial healing. Gay Pride Flags

I felt sad for Wallace’s daughter, who acknowledged her father’s faults and is trying to change her family’s legacy. I was dumbfounded at the way someone could hold onto and promote an idea that denied individuals equality and had been rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court years before.

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Let’s talk about race: the death of Tony Robinson

by Saul Glazer

The recent police shooting of Tony Robinson put Madison in the national headlines. Thankfully, unlike last year’s events in Ferguson, Missouri, the protests following Robinson’s death have been peaceful. However, the incident has once again put a spotlight on how we view race relations. This article discusses race relations in general and the problems employers have with race issues in the workplace.Time for a conversation

Robinson shooting and reaction

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DOJ is the latest federal agency to extend Title VII protection

by Leslie A. Sammon

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace discrimination by all private employers, state and local governments, and educational institutions with 15 or more employees. We are all familiar with Title VII’s prohibition against sex discrimination in the workplace. In recent years, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency responsible for enforcing Title VII, has found that claims of sex stereotyping by lesbian, gay, and bisexual individuals are covered under the Act’s prohibition against sex discrimination. The EEOC has also interpreted Title VII to prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity, including transgender status. On December 14, 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a reversal of its previous position and has now joined the EEOC in extending the protection of Title VII to allow claims based on an individual’s gender identity.  Transgender

DOJ explains its position

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Anatomy of an employment lawsuit: best HR practices to help you win

by Michael J. Modl

Imagine you employ Rajesh Tank, an employee of Indian descent, as a regional VP. Other employees report that Tank engaged in unprofessional conduct that hurt team morale, showed favoritism toward certain employees, and pressured employees to hire a particular contractor. You investigate the allegations, find some truth to them, order Tank to terminate the contractor, and place him on a corrective action coaching plan.  scales of justice

Tank then reports inappropriate racial workplace comments and objects to the level of discipline meted out to the employee who made the comments. He engages in unprofessional conduct after being placed on the corrective plan, and despite your request that he terminate the contractor, he doesn’t. He also raises concerns that he is being discriminated against in the workplace. As a result of coworkers’ complaints about him, you conduct a second investigation and conclude that discharge is the appropriate course of action.

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