Steps to take toward gender equality

by Dinita James

In the mid-1970s, I wore an ERA bracelet in support of ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). I also had a button that displayed only two numbers and a symbol ― 62 ¢.

The 62 cents signified the then-current national average of women’s earnings for every dollar earned by men. Some four decades later, the ERA appears to be a constitutional dead letter, and women earn about 81 cents on the dollar compared with their male peers.  UnequalPay

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Rise in religious bias claims forces analysis of a multitude of sins

by Rodney L. Bean

Claims of religious discrimination are on the upswing, leaving many employers scrambling to avoid liability for failing to properly manage the complicated interplay between faith and work. Of all the classifications protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, religion perhaps presents the most diverse range of issues for employers. From dress and grooming standards to work schedules and holiday parties, religion’s intersection with employment can affect most aspects of your business. With many employers facing religious discrimination charges for the first time and serving as examples for others, the variety of ways religious claims can arise is quickly becoming clear.   ReligiousAccommodation

Religious bias claims are ascending

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Untouchable? Disciplining employees for disability-caused misconduct

by Nikki Hall and Eugene Park

HR professionals regularly implement employee discipline and are adept at navigating the waters of reasonable accommodations for disabled employees. Mingling those two issues, however, can sometimes pull an employer in opposite directions when it’s responding to, for example, a chronically tardy employee suffering debilitating side effects from medication or an employee whose rude or even threatening behavior is due to a psychiatric disability. Adding to this conundrum is the differing and evolving judicial and administrative guidance.  YouAreLate

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Military downsizing presents opportunity, challenge for employers

March 16, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

A thread running through a succession of news stories is sending a clear message to employers: The military is shrinking its ranks and the pressure is on civilian employers to hire more veterans.  VeteransAtWork

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced new downsizing plans for the nation’s armed forces in February, explaining that budget cuts are going so deep and coming so quickly that “we cannot shrink the size of our military fast enough.”

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Maintaining a religion-neutral workplace

by Charles S. Plumb

About a year ago, a group of private citizens paid for a seven-foot-tall granite monument of the Ten Commandments and gained approval for it to be placed on the north end of the Oklahoma Capitol grounds. Not surprisingly, a satanic group then asked Oklahoma’s Capitol Preservation Commission for permission to erect a seven-foot-tall “homage” to the Prince of Darkness, and a Hindu organization applied to have a monkey god statue join the growing list of Oklahoma statehouse religious monuments. Most recently, the Pastafarians—people who follow the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster—have asked how they can apply for a spot for their statue on Oklahoma’s Capitol grounds. I’m serious.  ReligiousSymbols

What does this have to do with your workplace? Hopefully nothing. But it serves as a good reminder about the potential curveballs an employer can face when religious issues gain prominence at work.

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Satisfying your obligation to accommodate disabled employees

by Kara E. Shea

Did you know the fastest rising category of claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is claims based on disability discrimination and/or failure to accommodate disabled employees? This isn’t surprising given that, under the expanded Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), virtually any nonminor/nontransitory impairment may be considered a qualifying disability.  DisabledEmployee

So the crucial question is, once you have determined that an employee or job applicant has a disability, to what lengths must you go to provide a reasonable accommodation? Do you have to provide the specific accommodation requested by the employee? What is an undue hardship? This month, we provide some pointers to help employers navigate the process of determining how or whether to provide an accommodation for an individual with a disability.

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Wiccan what? Religious accommodations and sincerely held beliefs

by Steve Jones

Q If an employee asks for time off for her religious beliefs, can I legally question her about her religion (e.g., what her religion is and why she needs off)?  Wiccan

A Most likely, yes. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on religion. The Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to make reasonable accommodations for a worker’s sincerely held religious beliefs unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on business operations. Under Title VII, the “undue hardship” defense requires an employer to show that under the particular circumstances, the proposed accommodation poses more than a minimal cost to or burden on the employer.

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You’re not a doctor, and you don’t play one on TV

by Jane Pfeifle

An employer made an incorrect assumption about a disabled applicant. When a court disagreed with the assumption, the employer paid the applicant more than $50,000. Lynn, Jackson, Shultz & Lebrun, P.C., the firm of article author Jane Wipf Pfeifle, was involved in this case. All facts are taken solely from the court’s decision.  EyeDoctor

Facts

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Tips for leveraging inclusiveness for a more productive workforce

February 16, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 1 COMMENTS

Employers are always searching for ways to empower their employees to do their best work. They invest in training to help workers gain skills, and they develop policies designed to keep the workplace running smoothly, but other components—cultivating cultural intelligence and fostering an environment of inclusiveness—may be overlooked.   Welcome

Simma Lieberman, a diversity and inclusion/culture change consultant, has advice for employers interested in leveraging the diversity they have in their employees, and it starts with shedding the attitudes that can hold an employer back.

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To build or not to build? That’s the inclusion question

by Brad Federman

Typically, an organization employs inclusion efforts because it notices there’s a morale issue within a certain group or within the organization as a whole, a legal challenge has been filed against the organization, or there has been an effort to organize a union. Unfortunately, many inclusion or diversity efforts fail because they are reactive tactics used to pacify a group or groups. Even much of the discrimination and harassment training that exists is done to stay out of legal trouble or in direct response to a legal issue. What a large number of organizations fail to see is that a reactive effort to respond to workplace issues actually alienates and disenfranchises many employees.   WorkingTogether

Inclusion has become an approach to working with employees who are different or have special needs. Employees don’t want to be treated well because they are different or because the organization is afraid of a union organizing effort. They want to consistently feel respected, included, and valued. You must develop a strong, clear, and productive culture to demonstrate respect, interest, and value in your employees on a consistent basis.

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