Oct 022008
Political Discussions in the Workplace - Danger Zone

Discussions regarding the Presidential Campaigns seem impossible to avoid. The media is bombarding us with information as this election year there are many “firsts” in our history. Freedom of speech is our right – but is it right to discuss politics in the workplace? Politics, personal finances and religion are topics that are best avoided in the workplace. You cannot assume that because a person may share your views on sports, entertainment, books, etc., that they also share your political views. If you are unsure of your colleague’s views, it is best to avoid political discussion Most companies do not have a formal policy for political discussions in the workplace. However, business owners, executives, managers and supervisors need to be […]

Sep 182008
Privacy Compliance - Disclosing Health Information Has its Consequences

Some businesses are unsure how to handle privacy compliance in regards to HIPAA regulations. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 has created more work for businesses in that they have to spend endless hours researching HIPAA regulations, training employees, rewriting contracts, internal documents, patient forms and policy and procedure manuals. If office administrators, practice managers or physicians are unsure how to handle privacy compliance, then there could be consequences which can include hefty fines. The types of business entities that are affected by the law include, health plans, health care clearing houses, and those health care providers who conduct financial and administrative transactions (e.g., electronic billing and funds transfers) electronically. In order to ensure the security of […]

Sep 022008
The Past, Present and Future Workforce

As a “seasoned” Human Resource generalist, it is interesting to listen to all the pundits and professionals talk about the generational differences in the workforce. That is not to belittle the fact that there are generational differences, but I believe most of those differences could be captured and utilized effectively if organizations would look to the past and the present to determine how they will get to the future. According to business surveys, there are currently 4 generations in the workplace. Those born before 1945 (called Veterans), those born between 1945 and mid-1960 (called Boomers), those born between 1965 and 1980 (known as Gen Xers), and those born after 1980 (either Nexters or Gen Yers). This creates a minimum age […]

Aug 262008
Age Discrimination Lawsuits Carry Great Financial Penalties

Image via Wikipedia The Supreme Court’s ruling in Smith v. City of Jackson, Mississippi, has upheld the notion that persons who sue for age discrimination do not need to prove that an employer intentionally discriminated based on age. Instead, a person only needs to show that a workplace policy has a disparate impact on older workers. Due to the gray areas within this ruling, additional litigation has surfaced. Plaintiffs sue for emotional distress caused by age discrimination, and the typical age-bias cases average $150,000, while state law wrongful discharge lawsuits can run upwards of $1 million. Age discrimination lawsuits carry great financial penalties because the damages are based on the earnings of the plaintiffs and the time that they are […]

Aug 192008

The liabilities of a sexual harassment suit are not just limited to big business. Employers of 15-100 employees can be liable for up to $50,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, and management personnel can also be sued personally for sexual harassment violations. Here are the facts: Employers with 15 or more employees are covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1991, Congress amended Title VII to permit victims of sexual harassment to recover damages, including punitive damages, under federal law. In 1993, the U.S. Supreme Court broadened the reach of this law by making it easier to prove injury. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) expects to double its cases of sexual harassment over the […]

Aug 132008

Many employers are looking for tips and advice to survive the maze of employment issues that come with having employees. While there are many important factors to consider, the following is my Top 10 List of ways to avoid litigation. Take a good hard look at your employment application, as well as all other employment work related documents that an outsider may look at and say the documents seem to be biased or slanted. Your applications and any offer of employment should not only outline the job but should be signed, so make sure you have the candidate sign both of them. Do not hire over-qualified individuals as they will most likely become bored and will probably not stay engaged. […]

Aug 072008

Everyone is feeling the pain of the poor economy, particularly small businesses. Keeping your valued employees is especially critical at this time. You can’t afford to alienate your customers by eliminating employees and diminishing customer service. Consider the following before passing out the “pink slips”. Eliminate nonessential meetings and travel. Critical training should not be eliminated, but consider local resources and on-line seminars. Audit your office supply expenses. Employees need the tools to get the job done, but do you need 12 different colors of post-its and 6 different kinds of pens Ask your employees for their input on how you can save money. Employees are more likely to “grin and bear” the necessary cuts if they have a say […]

Jul 112008

As a Human Resource consultant, I have been asked, “How important is it to have an employee handbook/manual” And the add-on question is, “What goes into an employee handbook” The first question can be pluses and minuses to a business owner – employment lawyers, consultants, and managers of organizations all disagree on the value of employee manuals. This disagreement comes from whether or not a manual is considered by the courts to be a contract for employment. Also, if not written correctly, the manual may inadvertently guarantee job security. However, on the plus side, a handbook or manual can help increase morale. This is because when your employment practices are in writing, your employees feel they are being handled consistently […]

Jul 072008

A study of domestic violence survivors by The Commonwealth Fund in New York * found that 74% of employed battered women were harassed by their partner while they were at work. Homicide was the second leading cause of death on the job for women in 2000** Domestic violence does not stay at home. If follows the victim to the workplace where a woman is harassed by threatening phone calls, absent due to injuries or loss of productivity due to anxiety and stress. While anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner.*** Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970, employers are […]

Jun 262008

Recordkeeping has been a major obstacle for many companies who don’t know what to save, where to save the files, how long they need to save them, or what to do with them once they are created.  More importantly, they don’t know who has access to them or how to destroy them.   While there is no federal or state requirement that an employer maintain personnel files, employers are required to keep certain records to comply with various laws and regulations. The overriding concern is to balance employee privacy and the employer’s need to know while still managing to keep good records.   According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) standard operating procedures, the following items should be […]