One thing that many employers overlook in these times is their employees’ morale. Can you as a business owner, or manager even honestly say that your employees are happy? Or can you feel the temperature fall when you walk around? How about this one, can you name four of your employees spouses’ name? If these questions brought out a question in your mind of not being able to confidently answer them, then maybe there is a morale issue at your business.

     Let us get a couple words defined quickly before we go on, first of all, there is a big difference between “Morale”, and “Moral”. One little ‘e’ changes the entire meaning, that is why the English language is one of the most miss-understood languages in the world. For instance the spoken word (phonetically, tŭ) this could mean a number (two), and addition to time (too), and even as a preposition (to). But back to Morale, and Moral, Moral is the personal belief in something right and wrong to where Morale is a general personal feeling of happiness or sadness.

     If you have not watched the news lately, there has been a big story about a certain Flight Attendant who was suffering from poor morale, and just lost it and freaked at work. Is this a perfect example, no, but it is something to keep in the back of the mind while reading this post. When an employee starts feeling as if they are not wanted, or are treated in a way that THEY PERCIEVE as poor, then their morale falls. You as a business owner/manager could take two employees at random and ask them how they like their jobs, both most likely will say “Yes”. Guess what, one of them is most likely fibbing. Why? You are an authoritative figure, and people watch the news about people losing jobs left and right, they may fear saying the truth, therefore they say “Yes”. Ever think of that take on the matter?

      Employee Morale can be a sensitive and cautious subject to deal with, but every employer MUST deal with it. Those out there that cook, or have tried to cook, know that if you are boiling a simple dish like pasta, and leave the heat on too high, and put a lid on the pot know that it will boil over. Is this meant to scare you? No, it is meant to make you visualize through the eyes of your employees. Janet Jackson had a great song in the 80’s whose lyrics included the phrase “What have you done for me lately?” Your employees are seeing increased need for production with less resources (time), this resource is keeping employees from seeing more and more of little Johnny or little Jackie as they grow up, and that is causing sadness and in some cases anger. Time off from work is being cut back, wages are being reduced, work hours increased at times, these are the things that affect employee morale. Notice the word affect, that is another word that has a close cousin, effect, which has a wholly different meaning. Once again the English language working for us.

     We all know that this recessionary period that we are in is tough, and your employees are also well aware of it. You as the business owner/manager are watching your budgets shrink, but one part of your budget that should really never be touched and that is a part that many people do not think of, employee benefits. This does not mean Health Insurance or any other staple, it means what can you do as a business owner/manager to reward your employees for the hard work that they do. Did you know that there are extremely inexpensive ways to reward your employees to raise employee morale? Simple things, as long as there is a consistent pattern of delivery, could not only raise employee morale, but even make it sky-rocket. Here is an example, businesses are partnering with other local businesses through Chamber of Commerces to off their employees discounts on items. One very good example would be partnering with a local massage therapy office, a back massage is a great stress reliever, and an inexpensive ‘treat’ given to employees while off the clock. Ever think of that?

     This is something that People Wise can investigate for you and set up as a EAP (Employee Assistance Program) option for your company. Day one, hour one of any business class at any reputable learning institution, you learn that minimal investment that returns maximum return is the best business decision. That is what we do for you as our clients, and yes you are our client as you read this! Contact us today, and tomorrow you could be seeing more and more true smiles around your workplace, and not the concrete “fear – smiles” that happen so much today in business.

Personally, I remember when there were BBSs (Bulletin Board Systems), think back before Windows, AOL, and even CompuServe. Here is a good one, I remember when I had a 9600 baud modem, and my green screen computer. Those days are long gone, now most people have smart-phones, you may even be reading this on one, now to think about it, I remember owning a bag-phone, then a brick-phone that could store 9 numbers!!! That was the height of technology then, now my smart-phone can store over 300 numbers, and can surf the net, and has specialized apps for all these social networking sites such as Twitter, Face book, LinkedIn, and the such.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, ask a teen-ager, they know them well, and so does many of your employees! These multitude of sites have a great networking asset side, but also sometimes has an addiction, if not a possible breach of confidentiality associated with them. Take for example, Company A is doing some work for a federal agency, and someone takes out a smart-phone or when they get home tweets about what work they did at the job-site, that could be considered a breach of security. As another example is Company B. An employee overhears a rumor about a relationship in the office, and posts it on their face book account, which not only will they see it, but every person that they are friends with will also see it and so on and so on, which could cause strife in the office, if not a toxic workplace.

Many employers are now going with Social Networking Policies aimed directly at slowing, if not ceasing this activity. When a person makes a statement on these sites, and in their profile it says that they work for ABC Company, those statements could be miss-construed as a company authorized statement if not properly worded. What one person reads as a jovial post, another may perceive as a factual statement.

Perception is the word of this post, perception which is what a person thinks a statement means, can be positive, but could also be negative, if not destructive for business. Can an employer ban a person from being a member of these sites? No. Can an employer have a policy in place whereas employees that post about work quantify the post with a single line saying that they are not representing the company? Yes.

I am sure that everyone has seen the commercials on television (those are the things you fast forward through using your DVR, or Ti-Vo) about the young lady that is constantly asked What are you going to post next?, culminating at the end of the commercial where a person playing the part of a predator asks for that young lady post something really personal. There are true dangers when posting private information on the internet, as there are lots of people that can read it, save it, if not warp it into something truly destructive.

Is this supposed to be a terrifying post, no. This post is just to shock you as the business owner/manager to what may be out there. A correctly, and legally written social networking policy is something that may be daunting to business owners/managers. This is why People Wise is here, to assist, we have members on staff that can assist your company become more productive by releasing your worries about HR issues such as this. Contact us, and we can assist.

Oh, and by the way, The statements in this post where the word “I” have been used do not reflect the standing of People Wise in any way, and must be considered an editorial by the author of the post.

Who Owns What?

July 23, 2010

This is a touchy subject, but an important one. This is not a full list, as it could be a 5000 word posting, but there can be confusion at times, as to who really owns what in a business. Here are some limited examples:

An employee is utilizing work e-mail on a work owned computer to send and receive personal e-mails. This is an example of business owned property. When an employee utilizes the work e-mail address(s) to do anything outside of his/her actual position (i.e. political information, religious information, etc.) that e-mail is actually the property of the company, and therefore can be construed as company property. Anything stated in that e-mail as well as any content to and from that e-mail account is defined as company property.

An employee utilizes a work owned computer or even a personal computer attached to the companys internet connection is the companys property. There is a new side to this, and that is the utilization of a USB Modem (These can be purchased from a myriad of different providers), but the employee that utilizes their own personal lap-top or net-book on the company internet services, the content itself is the property of the company, not the employee.

An employee utilizes a work issued, or paid for cell-phone (The company name is the main payable on the phone), and uses it for non-work phone calls. The company itself has the authority to review calls made on that cell phone, as well as any charges that may be present on the bill. For instance:

Employee A Uses their company-owned cell phone to call friends after hours and talk beyond the minute limit, therefore incurring excess charges (these can range from over the limit minute usage, or even roaming minutes).

Employee B Uses their company paid for cell phone to download ringers or they decide to text a message to one of the pay per text services (i.e. KGB), and incurs excess charges.

In both of these circumstances, the company has the right to review and ask the employee to pay for the charges, start a disciplinary action, or even just confiscate the company-owned phone.

Here are a couple of other touchy situations that come up with the question of Who owns what?

Employee C has a locker on the job-site, with a lock on it. There is a question of some sort of illegal or other justifiable issue that comes up (drugs, theft, material of a questionable nature like pornographic material), the employer has every right to cut the lock or ask the employee to take the lock off to search the locker. As the locker itself is company property, to where the belongings are employee owned. In the event of a questionable illegal material, a law enforcement individual may need to be present.

Employee D drives a company-owned vehicle (the company name is on the title), and is suspected of carriage of materials that are contrary to business purpose (drugs, or materials of a questionable nature, etc.) That vehicle can be searched at any time, without express notice, and anything inside that vehicle can be considered company property.

Employee E drives a company paid-for vehicle (the company provides substantial financial assistance to the vehicle, but the company name is not on the title), the belongings inside this vehicle are NOT considered property of the company, even though the vehicle is subsidized by the company (mileage reimbursement, insurance reimbursement, etc.)

Having a clear and concise policy about what is owned by the company, as well as who owns what, can be a complex situation, something that People Wise can assist you with, contact us for a free consultation!

A review, hated by some, and loathed by others, but this activity is a necessary part of any business. There are ways to do it incorrectly, and there are ways to do it correctly.

Instance A — The Manager, whom has a full calendar of events and meetings schedules a review day for all employees in their department. This manager having very little time since they are heads of multiple projects, takes a cursory glance at the employee file and tries to remember the last time they and the employee have last talked. Remembering that the employee was called into the office to have a discussion about internet miss-use about two months ago. The manager has just 15-20 minutes scheduled for this employee and when they arrive the manager only brings up the topic of the internet miss-use, and sets that as the mood for the review. This manager prattles on about the effect of miss-use of time at work on the internet due to company policy can cause termination. The employee leaves the meeting with a lower morale and feeling of inadequacy, and their productivity the rest of the day suffers because of it.

Instance B — The Manager, whom even though has a full schedule, and multiple projects on their schedule, knows that the following week a day has been set aside for reviews. Once they get the reminder or sees it up-coming, familiarizes themselves with the employee file, and notes that two months have passed from a discussion about internet miss-use. This manager takes two seconds and sends an e-mail to the IT department and asks for a usage report, and states that they need it soon. Also the Manager while attending a conference call, reads over other information in the employee file, such as a recent certification or higher degree attained. Receiving the data from the IT department that the employee has spent significantly less time on the internet, a sheet of notes for discussion is created. On the day of the review, the Manager sets 30-45 minutes for the meeting. Opening the meeting, the manager brings up the new degree/certification, and the correction of the internet miss-use. Once this is done, the manager offers the employee a couple moments to tell them about the new certification/education experience that they worked so hard for. Time is spent talking about goals for the next period of time and the next review. The employee, elated about being able to share their achievements goes back to work with a new energy and passion.

So reading both instances, which is the incorrect, and which is the correct? If you answered A as incorrect, your right. Employees that are treated in the fashion of an assembly line are those that will not be as productive and full of passion of their work than others. It is the managers job to do these reviews, and to do them correctly. Unfortunately in todays economic times, the manager has almost too much on their plate, but when reviews come up, that plate must be juggled and time made in order to give profitable feedback. The word profitable feedback is the type of feedback that satiates the employee, and adds to their underlying need for not only acceptance but also acknowledgement.

In Instance A, the manager does not take the necessary 2-3 minutes to e-mail IT or a front line supervisor about whether the internet miss-use has been corrected or not. Nor does this manager take an additional 2-3 minutes to read through the employee file to see that this individual took the initiative and got that higher degree or certification. In this instance, both the manager has failed the employee, and the employee may fail the company by taking their knowledge asset to another company. Fail Fail

In Instance B, the manager does take the necessary 2-3 minutes for the e-mail, takes the 2-3 minutes and reads the employee file, and the light bulb goes off above their head. Setting the tone of the meeting with a congratulations for the certification/degree and acknowledging that the internet miss-use issue has passed. The manager has done their job, and the employee has been positively reinforced. Win Win

In todays busy business environment, managers have a tendency to just fly into a dreaded review, and not look at it as a way to retain, if not source for a new asset for a project. This is a learned experience, not an inherited one. Effective managers LEARN how to do reviews, and follow-up on errors or why the employee gives a low job satisfaction review in an exit interview for instance. Long gone are the days like in the movie 9 to 5 where a manager is only responsible for a few tasks, they are responsible for a multitude of tasks, of which the most important one is change along with employees. As a manager, stagnation is the killer of profitability, and constant change is the fertilizer for a productive profitable employee.

As always, contacting People Wise is a benefit when these issues come up, and consultation services, being inexpensive, reap the rewards of productive employees!

Assessing your job descriptions and making them compliant with FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act) should be done on a regular basis. This will assist a company in not only protecting themselves, but also allowing the employee to know what is expected of their position. For example:

1. Job A Has no FLSA Job Description, and hiring of an employee that you believe can do the job, can cause issues down the line when it is not clearly and legally stated that the job requires certain things, such as lifting, bending, stooping, and the percentage of the time of each of these.

2. Job B Has a FLSA Job Description that is presented to the candidate or current employee so that they know what exactly is required of them. Is this a way to get rid of an employee? No. Would this be a safety mechanism for the employer, Yes.

3. Job C Has no FLSA Job Description, and the company states that pregnant women cannot work in this position due to chemicals that may cause birth defects in unborn children.

In and amongst these three jobs there are dangers, cautions, and positives. They are:

– Dangers FLSA allows for an employer to only write a job description that informs the employee, not restrict the employee (i.e. Cannot work inside of a building, Cannot work in a certain area) Under no circumstances should an employer re-write a job description in order to cause an employee to be either re-assigned or terminated.

– Cautions Perfect example is Job C, as writing in the FLSA that there is a possible danger to Pregnant Women who work around chemicals that cause birth defects. You cannot keep a pregnant woman from working in that position, but even a waiver is loose for protection of the employer in case of litigation. One of the numerous chemicals is Ethylene Glycol Ether, checking your properly written Safety Manual and MSDS will tell you which ones are dangerous to this protected class of worker.

– Positives If the FLSA job description states clearly that there is repetitive lifting of 50 pounds of more, then an applicant that cannot do that, could be by-passed for one that can. For instance, John Doe applies and John has no ability to constantly lift 50 lbs or more, and Jane Doe applies for the same position and she can lift the weight, Jane is the obvious choice.

FLSA Job Descriptions can be confusing and if not done correctly be pages and pages long, to where if done correctly after an audit of these descriptions, simple and clean. There should be no or very little grey area in the description because that grey area is where employers get in trouble.

Call People Wise of Missouri, Inc. to complete this task, it is something that can give you as the employer a safety net, or a benchmark for issues that may arise.

This question is one that several employers ask themselves. To answer this question simply, protection. An effective, correctly written Employee Handbook can assist an employer not only protect them, but also cover themselves in the event of an Employee issue.

The Employee Handbook lists not only what an employer expects of an employee, but also what an employee expects of their employer. This relationship between employer and employee allows for the equal exchange of information, whether the company has 2 employees or 25,000 employees. Some of the many items that are in an effective handbook are:

1. Key Employment Policies

2. Federal Law Commitments

3. Definition of Employment.

4. Harassment Policies

5. Disciplinary Definitions

This Employee Handbook can be done with both At-Will employers, as well as C.B.A. (Collective Bargaining Agreement) employers. The wording within the handbook may be different with the two types, but the meat of the sandwich remains the same. Even if you have multiple locations in a city, state, or national, the verbiage or meat of the sandwich may be applicable to one place, but may need to be changed in another locality.

You do need to ask yourself as an employer, Do I have an effective Employee Handbook? If you cannot truthfully answer it with a resounding Yes, then a Handbook Legal Compliance Audit is in dire need. Writing an effective Employee Handbook in itself is not an easy task for business owners, as they have to run their businesses, not research the ins and outs of the applicable laws.

So take a moment, look around your desk, and find your Employee Handbook, and look at it and see if you are confident in it. If you are not confident, or if there is a single doubt about your Employee Handbook, it is time for an audit. These audits are simple and easy with a turn-around of about a work-week.

Call People Wise to complete this task, it is something that can give you as the employer a safety net, or a benchmark for issues that may arise.

A friend of mine over at Training Time (www.trainingtime.com) published this article and I had to share.  It is funny but way too true to ignore.

There are countless articles and books that promise to tell employers how to boost employee morale. They may or may not be right, but there is something we all can be certain about.  There are easy ways to kill employee morale.  Thoroughly. Some of them are simple; some take time.  But they all work.

So with some levity and a lot of truth, here are 8 great ways to destroy the spirit of even the most dedicated of employees:

8) Start new hires with promises of raises, promotions and other perks, and then “forget.”  One of the best ways to destroy morale from the start is to make promises to your new hires, and then never mention them again.  Truly creative morale-smashers may want to extend this technique to existing employees, so even seasoned workers can share in the disappointment.

7) Make rules that defy logic and then enforce them – harshly.  If your employees don’t come within miles of a customer, ban jeans and make them dress up for work.  Prohibit personal decorations on desks.  Send out a memo limiting the time in the restroom to five minutes.  Whatever it is, make sure the consequences of these performance-related violations are severe – letters of reprimand, docked pay – anything to make them fear for their jobs. 

6) Play favorites. Everyone remembers the teacher’s pet – bring that dynamic into the workplace.  A great way to destroy employee morale is to make it clear that a few people can get away with anything, while the rest must toe the line. Or consider the reverse scenario… selectively enforce the rules with a few employees while letting the rest off the hook.  Morale is certain to take a nose dive.

5) Skimp on necessary tools, equipment or technology. Invite employee discontent by maintaining a tight hold on the purse strings when it comes to the tools employees need to do their jobs well.  Dole out pens, paper and other office supplies like they were the items about to tip the company over the financial edge. Create a make-do attitude, and then hold employees to standards unachievable given the lack of good tools and equipment. 

4) Maintain an atmosphere of fear in the workplace.  This technique can take many forms, but one of the most effective is to keep employees wondering whether their jobs will exist tomorrow.  Dwell on declining sales, especially if you can do so in several contexts.  Ask them casual questions about their spouse’s job security.  Drop small but favored perks such as water bottles, good coffee or the annual company picnic.  Productivity and employee attitude will fall simultaneously.

3) Show employees you don’t trust them.  Make sure employees know they are not at all trusted.  Double and triple check their paperwork, logs and products.  Listen in on conversations.  Hide behind cubicle walls and eavesdrop on employee discussions.  Search them as they leave, even if they have no access to anything of value.  The impact on morale and work quality will be noticeable almost instantly.

2) Make it an us and them atmosphere.  Demand that staff- level employees take cuts in pay, hours or benefits.  Postpone or cancel promotions.  Delay replacement of worn-out but needed equipment and furnishing.  Then give the executive staff new 22” flat panel computers.  Talk about how hot it was on your trip to Italy.  Complain about how your Porsche is always in the shop.  After all, they should be happy to have a job, any job. Right?

1) Wherever possible, reinforce the idea that they are replaceable.  This is the number one way to kill employee morale. For every person employed in your company, there are at least a dozen applicants eager to take their position.  Let your current employees know that, whether through words, deeds or environment, that they could be replaced tomorrow. 

The ADAAA 2008

November 11, 2008

On September 25, 2008, President Bush signed into law the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), which will amend the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and directly overturn several decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court interpreting that landmark law. The ADAAA sends an unmistakable message to the courts that the concept of disability is to be more broadly, rather than narrowly, construed. The primary consequences of these amendments to employers are that far more people will fall within the definition of disability under the ADA. Specifically, the measures will increase coverage and strengthen employee protections under the ADA by:

1. Rejecting the strict interpretation of the ADA that defines disability to be an impairment that prevents or severely restricts an individual from doing activities that are of central importance to one’s daily life;
2. Prohibiting the consideration of almost all measures that reduce or mitigate the impact of an impairment in the determination of whether an individual is disabled (i.e. hearing aids, prosthetic limbs);
3. Allowing persons who are discriminated against on the basis of a perceived disability to pursue a claim under the ADA regardless of whether the perceived impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.

The ADAAA Rejects the Supreme Court’s Strict Interpretation of the ADA As Setting a High Standard to Qualify as Disabled

The major goal of the ADAAA is to undo current case law that, for the most part, creates a restrictive interpretation of the statute’s definition of disability. The amendments
specifically direct courts to instead construe the law in favor of “broad coverage of individuals under the ADA.”

Congress Tells the Courts How to Interpret the ADA
For example, in the Murphy case, Murphy had severe high blood pressure, but with medication, could function normally and engage in a full range of activities. Before the ADAAA, the law did not consider him to be disabled under the ADA because the use of medication controlled the effects of his high blood pressure. Murphy was prevented from pursuing an ADA claim after UPS found him unfit for his driver position because of his high blood pressure. The ADAAA now mandates that in determining whether an individual is disabled under the ADA, the person must be evaluated as if untreated, without considering the ameliorative effects of high blood pressure medication.

As a result of this change, the ADA will protect people whose cancer is in remission, whose diabetes is controlled by medication, whose seizures are prevented by medication, and who can function at a high level with learning disabilities. Employers will need to concentrate less on the threshold issue of disability, and focus more on their duty to provide reasonable accommodations. The ADAAA makes an exception for those who wear ordinary eyeglasses or contact lenses to correct vision to full acuity. These devices are not to be ignored in considering whether a person is disabled. Rather, they are to be taken into account, in all but rare cases. The purpose is to exclude from the definition of disability persons who simply need ordinary glasses to read, drive, etc.

The Scope of “Regarded as” Claims Has Been Both Clarified and Broadened
The ADAAA further expands the ADA’s definition of disability, specifically the “regarded as” prong of that definition, by now including persons that have been discriminated against because of an actual impairment or a perceived impairment “whether or not the impairment limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity.” This is in stark contrast to the previous requirement expressed in the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion in Sutton that the perceived impairment must, like any actual impairment, substantially limit a major life activity. If a person is treated adversely (in regard to job application procedures, hiring, advancement, discharge, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment) because of an actual perceived impairment, that is a violation of the law, irrespective of whether the impairment actually limits or is perceived to limit a major life activity. However, the ADAAA excludes from the “regarded as” definition of disability those impairments that are transitory and minor. Transitory is defined as impairment with an actual or expected duration of 6 months or less.”

The ADAAA, however, limits the application of the ADA by clarifying that an employer’s duty to accommodate does not extend to those individuals who make discrimination claims under the “regarded as” prong of the definition of disability. Before the ADAAA, there was a split among the federal courts as to whether the ADA’s reasonable accommodation requirement applied to the “regarded as” category of disabled individuals. The ADAAA makes clear that employers have no duty to accommodate these individuals.

In short, the ADAAA clearly prohibits adverse employment actions based on myths, fears and stereotypes when the person being discriminated against may not actually have impairment, but is simply perceived to have one. As it is logically inconsistent to require reasonable accommodation of a misperceived impairment, the ADAAA clarifies that employers need not engage in the reasonable accommodation process with persons regarded as impaired, who are not actually impaired.

The ADAAA Clarifies Other Aspects of the Definition of Disability
To further the goal of broadening the definition of disability, the ADAAA adopts several other provisions to guide the interpretation of the term disability. These include:

The ADAAA specifically adds a nonexclusive list of examples of major life activities to the language of the statute, and, in addition to the activities recognized in the regulations promulgated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it adds the following: eating, sleeping, bending, reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating.
The ADA is also amended to now include a listing of examples of major bodily functions, which are considered major life activities. The ADAAA specifically rejects the restrictive interpretation of major life activity used by the U.S. Supreme Court in Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. v.Williams, 534 U.S. 184 (2002).

The ADAAA specifically includes as disabled those persons who have an impairment that is episodic or in remission, if the impairment would substantially limit a major life activity when active.

The ADAAA rejects the definition of “substantially limits” in the • Toyota case, and in EEOC regulations that define “substantially limits” as “significantly restricted,” and directs the agency to revise its regulations to be consistent with the amendment’s goal of broadening the class of persons covered by the ADA. However, unlike some initial proposals regarding the amendments and at least two current state laws, the ADA does not apply to persons who are simply “limited” due to a major life activity.

There Is No Reverse Discrimination Under the ADA
The ADAAA states that there can be no claim of “reverse discrimination” under the ADA. Specifically, the ADAAA states that the ADA does not provide for a claim that an “individual was subject to discrimination because of the individual’s lack of disability.” “Reverse discrimination” claims have arisen in the context of an employer providing reasonable accommodation. This means that non-disabled persons cannot claim discrimination because they were treated less favorably or were not given the same accommodations.

Practical Steps for Employers
The ADAAA will be effective January 1, 2009. Overall, this law will not require major changes by most employers, but some practical steps for employers to take are listed below.

Employers should:
1. Review their policies to make sure any definitions they use track the new law. Any handbook changes made should be communicated clearly to all employees. Most of the changes made in the amendments are legal clarifications of points that had been sources of controversy among lawyers, so it is unlikely that employers will need any major rewrites of policies.

2. Make sure that those in the organization who make decisions about accommodations, and human resources executives in particular, receive training to educate them about the changes in the ADA. These individuals need to understand the implications of the change in the definition of disability, and they should be highly aware of the “regarded as disabled” source of liability, so they avoid behaviors that might fall into this category.

3. Train persons in the company or organization who will be involved in the interactive discussions with employees potentially covered by the ADA. Those persons need to understand the comparative ease under which many additional people may now be covered by the law. They also need to know more about reasonable accommodations as many additional employees and applicants will have to be accommodated due to the amendments.

3. Expect more lawsuits to be filed. The ADAAA makes it easier for applicants and employees to make claims of disability discrimination. The defense of these suits will be more difficult, as the more expansive construction of the meaning of disabled will limit some frequently used defenses available to employers.

4. Discuss the effects of these legal changes with legal departments and/or outside counsel. Through early discussion, inadvertent problems can be avoided. Time is of the essence as these amendments become effective January 1, 2009.

Stated simply, planning avoids lawsuits.

Free Form I-9 Tutorial!

October 13, 2008

Click Image

Click Image

With immigration law heating up, it is imperative that businesses small and large alike understand their responsibilities.  This video tutorial gives an overview of the history, proper completion, storage, and destruction regulations, of the Form I-9. 

 

 

 

I presented to a group a while back and used some scenarios to prompt discussion about best practices in dealing with Sexual Harassment complaints. The result was a very fun and engaging conversation.

Many people from the group asked for a copy of the quiz to use in their trainings. Here is just one of the scenarios with the discussion points.

The “He Said-She Said” Sexual Harassment Scenario

Jane works for Bob. After successfully completing a project, Bob tells Jane he will treat her to lunch. The next day, Jane sends an email to Bob’s supervisor: “Yesterday, Bob asked me to go to lunch with him. I was not sure that was right, but he’s my boss. At lunch, he propositioned me. I want something done about this.”
The supervisor knows Bob to be a dedicated family man. He does not know Jane very well, but has no reason to believe she is a liar. He calls Bob, and tells him what Jane said. Bob is outraged, and denies everything. The supervisor then calls Jane and tells her that Bob denies the accusation. He asks if there were any witnesses. Jane says there weren’t, but swears that what she said is true.

Faced with a “he said-she said situation”, the supervisor puts a memo in their files, and tells them both to act responsibly, and avoid any future situations that might cause problems.

Was Bob’s supervisor correct in conducting the investigation?

YES NO

The story states that the supervisor knows bob well but does not know Jane very well. It is always best to have someone who is unbiased conduct the investigation. He should have either went to the HR department or (if no HR) hired an outside consultant to investigate.

Did Bob handle the investigation properly by only speaking to Bob and Jane?

YES NO

Even though the story states that there were no witnesses to this particular incident it is always a good idea to conduct interviews with various people who have contact with the people involved. This may just be a symptom of a chronic problem that needs to be addressed.

Since the case turned out to be a “he said-she said” and no harassment was proven, was the supervisor correct in only documenting the claim and results of the investigation?

YES NO

Both parties are clearly uncomfortable at this point. In order to avoid retaliation against Jane or further issues, I would try to move Jane under a different supervisor or into a different department….Although, one would have to be very careful that Jane was onboard with the move and would not be losing anything as it could be construed as retaliation if she viewed it as a demotion of any sort.

Remember that these are just the best answers in my opinion and should not be looked at as legal advice as I am not a lawyer. I designed this quiz to create conversation around best practices…not really to be a step-by-step guide. Every situation is different and you should always consult with an HR professional or an attorney on a case-by-case situation.

If you run into this type of situation or want to conduct a preventative training, People Wise can help. http://www.pwhrm.com