Archive for May, 2017

2017 Employment & Labor Law Conference Recap

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Last week, over 450 professionals attended the Employment and Labor Law Update. For two days, attendees heard from Ogletree Deakins attorneys about the latest developments in state and federal employment law, recent court decisions and how they affect employers now and in the future.

Workplace regulations are constantly evolving, especially this year as new administrations have taken office at a state and federal level. To help you stay up to date, we’ve gathered the top takeaways from the conference.

1. The process for employee exit just as important as onboarding. Don’t let shoving an employee out the door trip you up down the road. Make sure you are consistent, prepare for possible claims, recover company property and learn from past mistakes.

2. Well-demonstrated training and well-written policies for employees are the best defense to prevent sexual harassment. To be proactive, you must consider the quality of both. Related – don’t make legal claims and document that sexual harassment occurred; state that the employee violated employer’s policy.

3. There are many ways to effectively manage the risks when conducting a Reduction in Force. Most importantly, PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Determine your departments and target positions, then develop RIF selection criteria. Also, be sure to train your decision makers. There are so many moving parts – so if you must implement an RIF, the team at CAI can help you develop a plan.

4. The OFCCP will possibly merge into the EEOC. This speculation is supported by a recent report from the Heritage Foundation and from the Trump Administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget. Read more about this topic and potential effects here – White House Budget Released: EEOC Will Absorb OFCCP.

5. Return to the fundamentals of HR. Too often, we know the HR basics and exactly what we should do, but we forget to practice that. We sometimes choose to take shortcuts for the sake of expediency. The attorneys reminded us the risks associated with doing so, so make sure you revisit – and regularly revisit – the basics in your HR department.

Next up CAI’s 2017 Compensation & Benefits Conference. Save the Date! September 14 & 15, 2017

 

EEOC Record Keeping Comes to Background Checks

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

For many years now, the EEOC has required specific record keeping when a company uses some sort of applicant testing as a screening tool for employment.  Testing broadly refers to any part of the recruiting process where a decision can be made on an applicant as to them advancing in the process.  According to the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures (UGESP), companies have to collect applicant data when they make adverse decisions of employment based upon the performance of protecting status people through the use of “interviews, review of experience or education from application forms, work samples, physical requirements, and evaluations of performance” (UGESP).

While there is a partial reprieve for employers with less than 100 employees, these guidelines require employers to keep race, sex and ethnicity data on applicants, hires promotions and terminations (Section 15, UGESP).  This requirement is nothing new for those employers covered by federal affirmative action guidelines.  For all other employers, this news may be a bit unsettling.  As it was for Crothall Services Group.

In 2015, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Crothall Services Group, Inc., ( 2:15-cv-03812, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania) for not keeping the above prescribed records as they related to their use of background screening.  The case was recently settled through the signing of a consent letter where Crothall, in regards to conducting background checks, agrees to “keep records identifying the person’s gender, race, and ethnicity. Once Crothall has reviewed any person’s criminal history information or conducted any criminal history assessment, it also has to keep records of the criminal history information, the results of any criminal history assessment, and any employment decision made based on any criminal history assessment. The decree further requires record keeping relating to complaints about Crothall’s use of criminal history information and assessments, including complaints of discrimination, and regular reporting to EEOC throughout the decree’s duration” (EEOC).

So this leaves employers with an interesting choice.  If you adhere to the letter of the guidelines and collect race/gender information on all applicants, then that means the government will have the data it needs to potentially extract backpay and other monies from your company for applicants adversely impacted by your selection procedures.  If you collect that data, you are strongly advised to document why each applicant didn’t progress through the various levels of your selection process.  You would also would want a clear process on how long you maintain such records (one-year requirement from EEOC for non-federal government contractors).  If on the other hand, you chose to not collect data on applicants, then you could potentially find yourself in a situation like Crothall and be forced by the EEOC to adopt such practices going forward.  It’s also yet to be seen how an NC court would rule in such a case.

Regardless of the direction you go, we strongly recommend reviewing your applicant recordkeeping procedures and all “tests” you use during the selection process.

We can also help you with your background checking needs.  For more information please contact Kevin W. von der Lippe at (919) 878-9222, (336) 668-7746 or by e-mail; kevin.vonderlippe@capital.org.

Kevin W. von der Lippe is a licensed private investigator at CAI and for 19 years has managed our detective agency and background checking business.  He is security minded and proficient with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as administered by the EEOC as it relates to background checks. Capital Associated Industries Services Corporation is a licensed investigative agency, specializing in corporate pre-employment background screening. Our corporate agency license is BPN 001473P11.

Prescription Drug Abuse in the Workplace

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

More than 70% of US employers are feeling the direct impact of prescription drug misuse in their workplaces, according to a survey released by the National Safety Council. The survey also found that although 71 percent of employers agree that prescription drug misuse is a disease that requires treatment, 65 percent feel it is a justifiable reason to fire an employee.

“Employers must understand that the most dangerously misused drug today may be sitting in employees’ medicine cabinets,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president, and CEO of the National Safety Council. “Even when they are taken as prescribed, prescription drugs and opioids can impair workers and create hazards on the job. We hope these findings prompt employers to take the lead on this emerging issue so that workplaces can be as safe as possible.”

Drug poisonings, largely from opioid painkillers, now eclipse car crashes as the leading cause of preventable death among adults. Nearly half of Americans are personally impacted by prescription drug addiction, with 44 percent knowing someone who is addicted to a prescription pain reliever. Seventy-five percent of those struggling with a substance use disorder are in the workforce, revealing a hidden epidemic that many employers are struggling to address.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Only 19 percent of employers feel ‘extremely prepared’ to deal with prescription drug misuse in the workplace.
  • Although just 13 percent are ‘very confident’ that employees can spot the signs of misuse, 76 percent do not offer training to help close that knowledge gap.
  • 81 percent of respondents’ policies are lacking at least one critical element of an effective drug-free workplace program.
  • Just 57 percent are drug testing all employees. Of those employers who conduct drug testing, 41 percent are not testing for synthetic opioids.
  • 88 percent are interested in their insurer covering alternatives to pain relief treatment so that employees can avoid taking opioids, and nearly 60 percent believe the insurance company will be responsive. However, 30 percent of those employers will not act on that interest.
  • Encouragingly, 70 percent would like to help employees who are struggling with prescription drug misuse return to their positions after completing treatment.

The Council provides a free Prescription Drug Employer Kit to help employers establish policies and manage opioid use at work. For resources and information about prescription drug abuse both in the workplace and at home, visit here.

CAI delivers HR, compliance, and people development solutions to 1,100+ NC companies to help them build engaged, well-managed and low-risk workplaces. Contact us to find out how we can help your company.

Source: National Safety Council

Doug Blizzard brings a wealth of knowledge to CAI, serving as Vice President of Membership. During his first 15 years at CAI, he led the firm’s consulting and training divisions and counseled hundreds of clients on HR and Employee Relations issues. If he isn’t speaking at North Carolina conferences, teaching classes on Human Resources or consulting clients on EEO and Affirmative Action, Doug is leading the company’s membership services.

How to Help Your Managers Resolve Conflict in the Workplace

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017
resolving conflict image

Photo of my co-worker’s son, who’d decided to resolve conflict in his own way. Fortunately, he did not follow through with his course of action!

A key workplace skill that always seems to be overlooked is managing and resolving conflict. The beauty of this skill is that it can be utilized in both your professional and personal lives.

While it is clear that not all conflict is unproductive, oftentimes smoldering conflict works beneath the surface to undermine our relationships, and add unwanted stress.

Managing and resolving conflict requires the ability to quickly reduce your stress levels to bring your emotions into balance. You can ensure that the process is as positive as possible by sticking to the following guidelines:

1. Listen to what is said (and felt)

When we really listen we connect more deeply to our own needs and emotions, and to those of other people. Listening also informs us, and makes it easier for others to hear us when it’s our turn to speak. For best results: Listen to ‘hear or understand,’ and not to ‘respond.’

2. Make conflict resolution the priority rather than winning (or “being right”)

Maintaining and strengthening the relationship, rather than “winning” the argument, should always be your first priority. Be respectful of the other person and his or her viewpoint. By doing so, you increase the odds of a “win-win” outcome.

3. Focus on the present.

When you hold on to grudges or past resentments, your ability to see the reality of the current situation is greatly impaired. Rather than looking to the past and assigning blame, focus on what you can do in the here-and-now to solve the current problem at hand.

4. Pick your battles.

Conflicts are often draining. As such, it’s important to consider whether the issue is really worthy of your time and energy. If you go through life ‘searching’ for opportunities to be pissed off at the world, you shouldn’t have any problems finding a good conflict every day. That type of demeanor will only serve to bring you down and create collateral damage all around you.

5. Be willing to forgive.

Resolving conflict is impossible if you’re unwilling or unable to forgive. Resolution can only be found when you let go of the urge to punish. The urge to punish can never compensate for our losses and only adds to our injury by further depleting and draining our lives.

6. Know when to let something go.

If you can’t come to an agreement, agree to disagree. It takes two people to keep an argument going. If a conflict is going nowhere, choose to disengage and move on.

CAI delivers HR, compliance, and people development solutions to 1,100+ NC companies to help them build engaged, well-managed and low-risk workplaces. Contact us to find out how we can help your company.


Tom Sheehan brings 20+ years of extensive, broad-based strategic, tactical and practical HR experience to CAI’s 
Advice & Resolution team.  He advises HR and other business leaders on talent management, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, M&A’s, and employee relations.

Employment Law Advice Now Available…

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

CAI filed suit on January 23, 2015, to overturn a state law that currently prevents us from providing legal advice and services to member companies. We believe this state law is unconstitutional because it prevents free speech and free association by our members, and by our lawyers on their behalf. The lawsuit is still pending and our Motion for Summary Judgement will be filed in the first half of 2017. Essentially, it will argue the U.S. Constitution renders our restrictive state law unconstitutional and void. We expect the defendants will file their own motion to dismiss our claims. In our view, this case presents legal questions for the court, not fact-based inquiries. Litigation is expensive and slow, but given our experience in the General Assembly, it is the only path to providing members direct legal services through CAI’s own licensed attorneys.

In the meantime, due to the time required by litigation, we created a CAI Pre-Paid Legal Services Plan for our members. CAI members will now receive employment law advice from experienced attorneys serving our Plan as part of CAI membership dues. Services are provided by independent, local, licensed NC attorneys assigned to serve CAI members in an open-ended, no-extra-fee environment. CAI’s Plan is for members – created specifically to help reduce employment law risk (this is not an employee PPLSP benefit.)

CAI already provides members unlimited consultation with our HR professionals. These Plan attorneys add telephone-based legal advice in a very similar format. They will also use legal templates to help you resolve employment law matters such as separation and release agreements. They will help you understand claims and charges filed against you and your options. They will give opinions on employee handbook provisions.

Members can access the CAI PPLSP, and speak with the third-party firm’s attorney located in the CAI Raleigh office, by asking for an Advice and Resolution team member or for the attorney. The Plan has already served dozens of members with timely, immediate responses to urgent needs for essential legal advice. Full details of this new member benefit are provided at www.capital.org/pplsp.

Not a CAI member yet? Learn more about how CAI can help your company.  We deliver HR, compliance, and people development solutions to 1,100+ NC companies to help build engaged, well-managed and low-risk workplaces. Contact us to find out how we can help your company.

Bruce Clarke serves as CAI’s President and CEO, and has been with CAI since 2001. Bruce practiced labor and employment law with the national labor law firm of Ogletree Deakins for 18 years. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and was selected as one of North Carolina’s Legal Elite by Business North Carolina Magazine. Bruce is 100% committed to helping companies maximize employee engagement and minimize workplace liabilities.