Pay the lady

February 24, 2015 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

Patricia Arquette won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at this year’s Academy Awards, and people are still buzzing about her acceptance speech where she exclaimed: “It’s our time to have wageshutterstock_225011584 equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

Arquette will be pleased to know that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) vigorously administers the Equal Pay Act, which guarantees equal pay for equal work. In fact, an EPA complainant doesn’t even have to file a charge with the EEOC and, unlike with Title VII or the Americans with Disabilities Act, can proceed straight to court with a lawsuit.

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‘Transparent’ brings gender identity issues to forefront

February 13, 2015 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

Amazon’s streaming series Transparent follows Maura Pfefferman (born Morton Pfefferman and played by Jeffrey Tambor of Arrested Development fame), a retired political science professor and parent of three adult children, as she finally reveals to her family that she has always identified as a woman. The show’s creator, Jill Soloway, was inspired by her own father, who came out as a transgender woman. Behind the scenes, Soloway has gone to significant lengths to ensure that the story of Maura’s journey is treated with sensitivity and respect.  Transgender Symbol

For example, Soloway has enacted a “transfirmative action plan,” which has included hiring at least 20 transgender cast and crew members, more than 60 transgender extras, and two full-time transgender consultants. In addition, all the bathrooms on set are gender-neutral, and Soloway has distributed copies of Julia Serano’s trans memoir “Whipping Girl” to her cast and crew. Not only has the show’s subject matter and Soloway’s hiring/workplace practices broken new ground, but Transparent also has made Amazon the first digital streaming service to win a Golden Globe for Best Television Series with Tambor also taking home the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series, Musical, or Comedy.

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“I’m Ron ******* Swanson”

February 09, 2015 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

Ron Swanson is the man. If you’re not a Parks & Recreation devotee, I can’t recommend enough that you tune in if for no other reason than to enjoy his morsels of wit and wisdom. For the uninitiated, Ron Swanson is fictional Pawnee, Indiana’s, director of Parks & Recreation. He’s a crusty, deadpan, hard-core libertarian who objects to the very existence of his own employer. Thanks to the show’s mockumentary format, Ron treats viewers to a steady diet of quips and advice that are absolutely hilarious.  Ron Swanson!

I have several favorites, and I’ve picked a few that touch on HR issues. Feel free to add others in the comments: read more…

Seahawks’ Lynch follows NFL policy, adds to absurdity of Super Bowl media day

January 29, 2015 - by: David Kim 0 COMMENTS
David Kim

Super Bowl media day is a complete circus. Everyone knows that. Sure, players and coaches of the two participating teams are made available to answer questions from the “media.” And sure, there are some respected journalists and analysts (which includes former NFL players) who ask “football questions” about this Sunday’s big game. But Super Bowl media day is also highlighted by the absurdthe costumed characters who somehow are permitted to infiltrate media day and the completely random questions that are asked (often, by these same costumed characters).  Marshawn Lynch

2015 Super Bowl media day was no different. Want respected reporters from around the globe? We got ‘em in spades. There was “barrel boy”the guy wearing nothing but a large barrel and a fireman’s hat. How about the guy dressed as The Terminator, complete with fake inflated muscles, sunglasses and Arnold’s trademark hairdo from the movie. Heck, even a pair of buck-toothed sock puppets were granted access. Want hard-hitting questions designed to make players and coaches provide accountable answers? How about “Will you tell us the first play you’ll run in the game if we promise not to tell anyone?” “Do you have a favorite Avenger?” “PlayStation or Xbox?” “What does your mom call you when you’re in trouble?” Take that, Woodward and Bernstein.

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‘We fixed the glitch….’

January 26, 2015 - by: Matt Gilley 0 COMMENTS
Matt Gilley

I’m confident in this prediction: If you’ve ever held an office job, you will love Office Space. (If you haven’t seen it, get it now.) Anyone can find something in the movie that resonates. Maybe you connect with the guy who can’t bring himself to do more than 15 minutes of real work a week. Maybe you’re the one locked in a daily standoff with the fax machine. Maybe you’re like everyone in the movie under the thumb of a monotonous, soul-crushing boss.    Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler

I’m a Milton Waddams guy. Now that’s not to say I’m a mumbly guy with no apparent skills or role and a creepy fascination with my stapler (others will be the judge of that), but I can’t get enough of the guy. Milt was useless. When you watch the movie, you can’t figure out why the company hired him in the first place or why it keeps him on the payroll. In fact, some consultants in the movie looked into Milt and discovered that he actually had been laid off years before. No one ever told Milt he’d been downsized, and a “glitch” in the payroll system kept cutting him a paycheck. Therefore, Milt continued to wander aimlessly and mumble, and the company continued to shuffle him around the office with the furniture.

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And the Oscar goes to … tips for evaluating employee performance outside of Tinsel Town

January 20, 2015 - by: Marilyn Moran 1 COMMENTS
Marilyn Moran

Awards season is upon us and soon all of Hollywood will gather to celebrate its most talented actors and actresses, as determined by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Who will win the Oscar? shutterstock_236123857

While this question is being volleyed about and fiercely debated among Internet pundits and armchair critics, the nominees themselves wait anxiously, knowing that receiving the coveted Academy Award would most likely translate into significant and tangible benefits for them in the form of professional prestige, better opportunities, and increased compensation. Adding to the suspense is the fact that the decision about who will receive an Oscar is left entirely to the arbitrary whims and subjective interpretations of the Academy’s members, with only the representations of a couple of accountants donned in Armani tuxedos to authenticate the legitimacy of the process.

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Now showing at a workplace near you

January 12, 2015 - by: Andy Tanick 0 COMMENTS
Andy Tanick

The air is bitterly cold, especially here in Minnesota. The kids are back in school, and the Christmas decorations have all been put away. For followers of pop culture, those signs can mean only one thing: Now you finally have time to see all those prestigious, blockbuster movies that came out in late 2014.shutterstock_141495676

Business owners and human resources professionals are especially fortunate this year, because so many of the top movies of 2014 had employment-related themes. What HR manager has never had to deal with the fallout from “Horrible Bosses,” after all? And what business hasn’t worried that at some point, “The Judge” could be deciding the outcome of a legal claim filed by a disgruntled former employee?

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BFOQ FTW

January 04, 2015 - by: Brian Kurtz 0 COMMENTS
Brian Kurtz

YOU are a seasoned HR pro.  YOU understand the difference between Internet slang–omg, imho, lmao–and the Title VII defense of BFOQ.  We must discuss the BFOQ exception–bona fide occupational qualification–in the wake of the Abu Dhabi adventures of actress, singer, and ex-Biebs girl Selena Gomez.  ICYMI (see what I did there?), a picture surfaced of Gomez in a mosque taken while she and some pals were vacationing in Abu Dhabi. In the photo, Gomez clearly flashes her (NSFW alert) … ankle. shutterstock_194149595

Context is important. Gomez was a female in a mosque in the United Arab Emirates. Mosque rules prohibit “intimate behavior,” including a female’s failure to wear ankle-length garments. Could a U.S. employer refuse to hire or employ a female because it did business in Arab countries with decisionmakers who were devout Muslims?

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Elf: one too many Christmas spirits

December 19, 2014 - by: Kristin Starnes Gray 0 COMMENTS
Kristin Starnes Gray

With Christmas just around the corner, my family and I have begun our yearly ritual of re-watching our favorite holiday films. At the top of the list is a relatively newer addition, Elf.  The comedy stars Will Ferrell as Buddy, a human who crawls into Santa’s sack and ends up being raised by Papa Elf at the North Pole. After learning that he is actually human rather than an elf, Buddy decides to travel to New York to find his biological father, who works at a children’s book company and happens to be on the Naughty List. Much of the film’s comedy and charm comes from Buddy’s child-like innocence and genuine holiday cheer as he tries to navigate the cynical world of New York City. shutterstock_236981068At his father’s office, this same innocence leads Buddy to mistake a mail room worker’s whiskey for delicious maple syrup. As you can imagine, a six-foot tall elf can cause quite a ruckus in the workplace after having too many spirits.

Employers are well aware that illicit drug use and alcohol abuse can be costly in the workplace. Drug-free workplace programs can be powerful tools in spreading prevention messages and intervening early with those who have already begun to use drugs. For many individuals, especially those who may deny that their use of drugs is problematic, workplace-based programs can be a critical step along the road to treatment and recovery. Every workplace is different, and drug-free workplace programs should be tailored to match a company’s individual needs. Here are some general recommendations for such programs: read more…

Employee personal information – the gift you don’t want to give this Christmas

December 16, 2014 - by: Josh Sudbury 0 COMMENTS
Josh Sudbury

You may have heard the news of the monumental data hack on Sony late last month, where several personal e-mails, rough cuts of movies, and screenplays were obtained and released without authorization by the media giant. According to several news outlets, the e-mails in particular reveal personal gripes about certain celebrities (shocker!) and have raised allegations of pay disparities among stars and starlets. shutterstock_171929321

Below the surface of these salacious allegations lies a more common problem: employee personal information.  According to reports, hackers also allegedly stole—and are threatening to release—sensitive, personal information belonging to Sony employees, including Social Security numbers and detailed medical information. This has serious implications under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which sets the baseline for protection of employees’ protected health information (PHI) across the country. Individual states can add their own protections.

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