Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Stereotyping and Discriminating Based on Sex and Sexual Orientation, and the Related Federal Laws

Thursday, October 9th, 2014
Robin Shea, Partner at Constangy, Brooks & Smith

Robin Shea, Partner at Constangy, Brooks & Smith

The post below is a guest blog from Robin Shea who serves as Partner for Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP, CAI’s Partner for the 2014 Triad Employment Law Update. This post originally appeared on her blog Employment and Labor Insider.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is dead again. Is there any federal law on same-sex harassment or discrimination? If so, what is it? Here are some scenarios that may be helpful in picking through this crazy extremely complex and rapidly transitioning area of the law. (Answers are provided after Scenario 6, below.)

 

Scenario 1. Joe has a huge crush on John. Joe makes lewd and unwelcome comments to John, and tries to corner him to make sexual advances to him. John has made it clear to Joe that he is not interested, but Joe doesn’t listen.

Under federal law, is there a problem?
pollcode.com free polls

 

Scenario 2. Bill interviews Lester for a job. Lester is huge, hairy, and masculine looking. When Bill offers him a job, Lester says he is thrilled but will have to discuss it that evening with his “better half,” Jim. Bill immediately withdraws the offer and hires a less-qualified heterosexual man.

Has Bill violated federal law?
pollcode.com free polls

 

Scenario 3. Bill interviews Charlie for a job. Charlie is married (to a woman) and has four kids. However, he’s “thin and neat,” and he speaks with a sibilant “s.” Bill thinks Charlie will catch too much grief from Bill’s “rough” work crew, so he hires a less qualified guy who he thinks is more “manly.”

Has Bill violated federal law?
pollcode.com free polls

 

Scenario 4. Mary has short hair, doesn’t wear makeup or nail polish, and she wears “men’s” pants and flat shoes. The women she works with gossip about her behind her back and play mean jokes on her. The female supervisor sees all of this and thinks it’s funny and harmless.

Might the company be liable under federal law?
pollcode.com free polls

 

Scenario 5. Anne has long, lustrous, beautiful hair, and is perfectly dressed and made up every day, right down to her shell-pink ruffledy chiffon dress and her seven-inch stiletto heels. One day, Anne tells her boss that she and her partner are planning to adopt a baby. While the boss is ecstatically planning Anne’s baby shower, Anne mentions that her partner’s name is Marie. The boss starts writing Anne up for performance issues (all bogus), and eventually fires her.

Might the company be liable under federal law?
pollcode.com free polls

 

Scenario 6. Marsha (formerly Marshall) is a biological male who is going through the gender-reassignment process. Marsha has not had surgery yet, but she’s started hormone treatments and, on the advice of her physician, has begun dressing and living as a woman. Marsha’s supervisor, Staci, fires Marsha for coming to work five minutes late — once — when there was a horrendous accident on the interstate that made everyone else late, too. (No one else is even written up.)

Has Staci put her company in jeopardy under federal law?
pollcode.com free polls

 The answers, with no ENDA, and assuming none of these employers are federal contractors, are 1-D, 2-A, 3-D, 4-C, 5-B, and 6-C.

Huh? Seriously?

Crazy Extremely complex and rapidly transitioning, I know! Title VII prohibits discrimination based on sex but not sexual orientation. However, Title VII does prohibit discrimination based on sex stereotyping. (Why? Because the Supreme Court said so, that’s why.) So if the discrimination or harassment has something to do with stereotyping — in other words, the individual is being picked on because he doesn’t fit the picture of what a “man” should be, or she doesn’t fit the picture of what a “woman” should be, the individual could have a valid federal claim. As in this case.) On the other hand, if the individual is picked on “only” because he or she is perceived as being gay, then there is no valid federal claim.

Of course, many states and local governments have their own laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation. In addition, in any state, a person who is harassed because of sexual orientation may (depending on the circumstances) have common-law tort claims for intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery, or false imprisonment, and one who is fired or “forced” to quit could have a claim for wrongful discharge.  So employers should not think that the lack of a federal law means they can act with impunity.

Robin Shea is presenting at the 2014 Triad Employment Law Update on November14th at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro. In addition to sharing information on gender identify and new protected classes,  attorneys from Constangy, Brooks and Smith, LLP will provide you with the most recent updates in state and federal employment law. Register today at www.capital.org/triadlaw.

 

 

 

Compensation Rises as Top Contributor to Job Satisfaction for Employees

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

money blogAccording to a recent research report by The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employees in the US are now connecting their compensation to their happiness at work. The report, Job Satisfaction and Engagement: The Road to Economic Recovery, revealed that when asked what was very important to them, 60 percent of the participants said compensation/pay, which made it the biggest contributor to job satisfaction. SHRM conducted the survey in 2013 and polled 600 randomly selected employees at small to large companies.

Compensation/pay held the top spot in the employee satisfaction survey before the recession hit, specifically between 2006 and 2007. During the years of the recession, compensation/pay held lower rankings. SHRM conducts this survey annually.

“Incomes have grown slowly since the recession, and that undoubtedly is having an impact on workers’ priorities and one explanation for the leap to the forefront by compensation,” said Evren Esen, director of SHRM’s Survey Research Center.

Other noteworthy data the survey showed include that four generations of workers ranked compensation/pay as either the top or second-choice aspect of job satisfaction and employees at all job levels, with the exception of executives, ranked compensation/pay as one of the top three contributors to overall job satisfaction.

For more information on how compensation affects job satisfaction, retention and recruiting, please join us for the 2014 Compensation and Benefits Conference at the McKimmon Center on August 14 and August 15. Specific presentations that will focus on employee compensation and salary data include:

The Future of Attraction, Retention and Motivation: How Compensation Fits into the Process Anne Ruddy – WorldatWork

Leverage Marketplace Trends When Making Decisions about Compensation and Benefits Strategies Molly Hegeman – CAI

Taking the Mystery Out of Salary Survey Data Sherry Hubbard-Bednasz – CAI

Proactive Uses of Compensation Analysis – An Employer’s Perspective Kaleigh Ferraro – CAI & Member Company Panel

Additional topics presenters will cover include: why performance management fails, driving engagement and reinforcing culture, building high-performing teams, controlling healthcare costs, wage and hour regulations, retirement planning, and more! Visit www.capital.org/compconf for detailed information about speakers and session topics. Register today!

Photo Source: Miran Rijavec Stan Dalone

 

 

Key Learnings from 5 Different Areas of State and Federal Employment Law

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

PPT Slide ELLU 2014More than 430 HR professionals and company executives attended CAI’s 2014 Employment and Labor Law Update. Participants traveled to the McKimmon Center in Raleigh for the two-day event on May 14 and May 15 to receive the latest updates in state and federal law.

Knowledgeable attorneys from Ogletree Deakins, as well as an expert from CAI, shared important changes in the law at the conference. Topics the presentations covered included workplace investigations, FMLA, wage and hour issues, the ADA, and more.

Below is some of the information, which covers five different areas of employment law, discussed at the conference:

Expect more aggressive investigative tactics from the EEOC:

  • The EEOC is making extensive requests for information not germane to the charge at hand
  • Increased threats and uses of subpoenas
  • Increased demand for on-site investigations
  • During on-site investigations, EEOC increasing demands to review signage, personnel files and make general employee inquiries unrelated to charge
  • Increased demands for on-site tours and witness interviews
  • Aggressive behavior in settlement negotiations

Enforcement Trends in Immigration Law:

  • There’s nothing random about audits from ICE
    • Most audits are lead-driven and are discovered by a tip-line complaint, local law enforcement data sharing, and federal agency data sharing
  • Avoid these common I-9 mishaps:
    • Using a wrong or outdated I-9 form
    • Not completing Section 1 or 2 in the specified time frame
    • A new hire did not sign Section 1
    • Someone else completes Section 1 but they do not have a Preparer or Translator Certification
    • Hire date is missing
    • Employer’s address is incomplete

Updates in the ADA:

  • Leave as a reasonable accommodation
    • Granting a leave of absence may be considered a reasonable and required accommodation under the ADA if no other sufficient reasonable accommodation is available
    • Maximum leave policies don’t satisfy the ADA. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have one. You will just have to consider the ADA before discharging an employee for exceeding the maximum
    • An accommodation is “reasonable” if it “seems reasonable on its face, i.e., ordinarily in the run of cases”—in other words—if it appears feasible or plausible

Updates in NC Legislation—Bills of Interest:

  • House Bill 846: Job and Education Privacy Act- would prohibit employers and colleges from requiring individuals to disclose access information to personal social media and email accounts
    • Passed the house on May 16, 2013 and is in the senate; eligible for consideration in the 2014 session
  • House Bill 872: Protect NC Right-To-Work – declares it unfair trade practices for any contract to require a contractor or sub-contractor to use unionized labor. Contracts involving federal funds would be exempt
    • Passed in the House on May 2, 2013 and is in the senate; eligible for consideration in 2014 session

The NLRB is cracking down and scrutinizing company rules in several business areas, including social media:

  • Avoid the following in your company social media policy to stay on good terms with the NLRB
    • Prohibiting discussion of wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment
    • Prohibiting anyone from sharing confidential information without clarifying the definition
    • Prohibiting “no-disparagement” or words of “negative impact”
    • Vague restrictions about inappropriate conversations
    • Prohibiting the use of trademarks or company logos

For additional information on CAI’s conferences, please go to https://www.capital.org/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?site=cai&webcode=cai-training-conferences.

 

9 Things You Should Know About Immigration Law and I-9′s

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

I9 paperworkImmigration law can often be a tricky subject for employers to tackle. To ensure you’re keeping your organization compliant, here is some helpful information to remember:

1. Employers who have constructive knowledge that an employee is not authorized to work, but continue to allow the employee to work are subject to fines.

2. Although employers are not required to do I-9’s for contractors, they have a duty to ensure to the best of their ability that contractors are legally authorized to work in the United States.

3. Employers who hire out-of-state employees where there is no company representative to handle the I-9 process may contract with someone to complete I-9’s on their behalf, such as a notary public. (Note: Texas does not allow notaries to perform this service.)

4. Employers cannot require an employee to present documentation to support the Section 1 information. The employee attests by signature that this information is correct.

5. Employers or their agents are not required to notify the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of illegal aliens discovered through the I-9 process, and it is not recommended that you do so.

6. The I-9 form cannot be completed until a job offer is made and accepted. Because the I-9 requires date of birth and identifies whether the person is a U.S. citizen or alien, it could be a source of potential discrimination charges if an applicant were required to complete it pre-offer and then not be hired.

7. The I-9 Form states that Section 1 should be completed and signed by the employee on the day employment begins. This is defined as the first day of work where the employee is providing labor or services in exchange for pay.

8. It is fraud if someone other than the employee fills in Section 1 but does not provide the required information and a signature in the Preparer and/or Translator Certification box, or if HR or a company representative fills in missing information in Section 1 for the employee.

9. ICE investigations are lead-driven. Leads that appear to have some merit must be further investigated to avoid constructive knowledge and to resolve the issue.

Ogletree Deakins’ attorney Bernhard Mueller will provide additional information and updates regarding immigration law at the 2014 Employment and Labor Law Update. The conference will take place at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh on May 14 and May 15. In addition to immigration law, presenters will cover wage and hour issues, NC legislature, ADA, minimizing lawsuits, protecting proprietary information, and more. Register today at www.capital.org/lawupdate.

Photo Source: dataflurry

5 Things to Know From the 2014 HR Management Conference

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Branded ppt slideMore than 300 HR professionals and company executives attended CAI’s annual HR Management Conference this year. The conference took place on March 5 and March 6 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh, and the theme was HR 20/20: Evolve. Focus. Lead.

The keynote presentations and breakout sessions featured several topics aimed to help HR professionals and company leaders stretch out of their comfort zones, acquire new skills and understand the power they hold to lead their organizations and achieve their business goals.

Speakers covered several subjects relevant to the ever-evolving HR Industry, such as optimizing employee potential, future proofing technology, eliminating organizational inefficiency and utilizing emotional intelligence. Below are five takeaways from the 2014 Conference:

  • Diana Newton discussed emotional intelligence in the workplace during her conference presentation, Why Emotional Intelligence Matters at Work.
    • Diana says the first step to understanding your emotional self is to be aware and understand your feelings and their impact
    • You must also respect and accept your strengths and weaknesses
    • You can improve your emotional intelligence by improving yourself, pursuing meaningful goals, and realizing your potential capabilities

 

  • For her presentation, Leadership Transition: How to Assess, Plan, and Implement a Successful Strategy, Cindy Anderson shared with participants the tools and steps for developing a sound succession plan at their companies. Here’s some information she imparted:
    • In order to get buy-in from company leaders to start a transition plan, you should:
      • Approach leadership with the specific reasons why a plan is important
      • Focus on how the transition plan will add value to the organization
      • Think about why leadership has resisted in the past and deliver a message that minimizes those fears
      • Propose a timeline
      • Consider the potential candidates for leadership (if any internally)

 

  • Shane Yount shared helpful information in his presentation, HR Metrics – Training to Drive Sustainable Business Processes. He gave the following tips for implementing a scorecard matrix to track business productivity:
    •  Identify key business focus areas
    •  Develop SMART objectives
    •  Create standards to measure results against
    •  Establish target thresholds and color code by performance
    •  Delegate responsibilities and hold people accountable for the tasks
    •  Set how often you plan to compare results – weekly, biweekly, quarterly, etc.

 

  • During Ellen Baker’s presentation, Working and Thriving in a Multicultural World, she shared some useful information for interacting in global work scenarios:
    •  Observe, observe, observe
    • A handshake or nod works almost anywhere
    • Use your right hand or both hands when making contact, but don’t use your left hand
    •  Err on the side of formality
    •  Respect and honor cultural norms, but be yourself
    •  Be compassionate, tolerant and flexible
    •  Success lies in humility- admit that there’s a lot you don’t know
    •  Keep your sense of humor
    •  Minimize gestures
    •  Smile, smile, smile

 

  • CAI announced the 2014 Ovation Award Winners:
    • Farragut Systems won the small company award for its Employee Performance and Development program
    • Tanger Outlet Centers won the mid-size company award for its Peer Assisted Learning program
    • AICPA won the large company award for its Grow the Ranks program

 

For additional information on CAI’s conferences, please go to https://www.capital.org/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?site=cai&webcode=cai-training-conferences.

 

Professionalism – Establishing Your Emotional Patience

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014
Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary

The following is a guest post from Jay Rifenbary. Jay, a professional speaker and trainer, is president of Rifenbary Training & Development and author of the best-seller, No Excuse! – Incorporating Core Values, Accountability and Balance into Your Life & Career. He has expertise in the areas of personal and professional development, servant leadership, and communication training.

How do you define your level of professionalism? Is it based on your patience, performance under pressure, manners, personal charisma, beliefs, or is it a deeper sense of awareness and commitment to take the high road in all you do? Certainly how you physically and emotionally handle yourself under stress and pressure, and how you effectively communicate in the midst of any stress and pressure contributes to an understanding of how emotionally patient, and how professional you are.

To exude professionalism is to display a personal pride in yourself with an understanding that being humble is also part of the process. A person exemplifying genuine professionalism is never arrogant and understands that their professional behavior can have a positive, calming, and educational impact on those around them.

Professionalism is defined as, “professional character, spirit or methods.” I believe all three of those elements relate to the behavioral component of professionalism as much as the occupational component. A doctor may be exceptional in his or her specific field of practice, but if they lack professionalism it will have a detrimental impact on the doctor-patient relationship. If a coach knows his or her sport, but displays a lack of professionalism, it will ultimately negatively impact team morale and performance. Professionalism is not the job you do, it is how you do your job. As German philosopher Goethe said, “Behavior is a mirror in which everyone displays his own image.”

As it relates to character, you do not respect someone who cannot maintain their level of professionalism in demanding situations, and they lose credibility. Who wants to associate with, or respects, an unprofessional individual? In respect to those in public service, it is completely evident how a lack of professionalism can destroy a career in an instant.

The development of one’s professionalism is significantly influenced by one’s past, upbringing and family relationships because of possible dysfunctional and codependent behavior patterns that were established growing up. When there is a history of emotional turmoil a defense mechanism is established to avoid any further similar emotional turmoil in the future. As an adult, this defense mechanism rears its ugly head when a situation may exist that triggers those past harmful emotions.

For example, if you are vulnerable to a feeling of inadequacy because of how you were parented, and a situation or dialogue presents itself where you feel inadequate, you are less likely to maintain your professionalism.  As a child, if you perceived others not valuing who you were and developed a need to be appreciated, when a situation or dialogue presents itself where you feel unappreciated you are less likely to maintain your professionalism. As a result in both instances, you become emotionally impatient as evidenced by potentially abusive verbal and physical behavior.

In evaluating your professionalism ask yourself, “In what situations am I, or have I, been the most emotionally impatient or unprofessional? What are the roots of that emotional impatience? Do I, and have I, taken ownership for the aftermath of my behavior where I have been emotionally impatient? Taking personal accountability, and implementing the core vales that reflect the positive characteristics you believe in, is key to enhancing and maintaining your professionalism. The more those beliefs are virtuous, to include decency and respect, the greater level of professionalism you will display.

Professionalism is also an educational process. There are certain behavioral characteristics that can be taught which contribute to a greater level of individual professionalism. Manners, proper etiquette, appropriate attire, effective communication, respectful behavior, and consideration of others are all areas that can be taught in the process of becoming more professional. An individual’s level of professionalism is a culmination of putting into practice the values, experiences, successes and failures of one’s life. Be that professional and positive example every day in all you do. It is an example that is sorely needed and will be respected by those you parent, manage, lead and love.

Jay is a keynote speaker for the 2014 HR Management Conference scheduled for March 5 and Mach 6 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh. At the conference, he will share additional tips for establishing emotional patience and more. Visit www.capital.org/hrconf today to register, view full agenda and review speaker information and presentation topics.

 

Ryan Estis Shares Insights on Why Companies Need to Rethink HR

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

ryanBio02[1]Ryan Estis is widely recognized as a leading expert on several business and HR topics, such as leadership, culture, sales effectiveness, and HR/workforce trends. For CAI’s 2014 HR Management Conference scheduled for March 5 and March 6 at Raleigh’s McKimmon Center, Ryan will kick off day one with his presentation, Rethinking HR: The Future of Work and Human Resources.

In his keynote session, he will explore the evolving role of HR and introduce new tools, techniques and technology to keep up with the different trends developing in the practice of people. I recently had the pleasure to talk with Ryan and discuss some of the information he plans to share with conference participants in March.

Starting the conversation on a positive note, Ryan said, “This is a great time to be in the practice of human resources.”

When combining the different trends that are emerging in the industry, he sees new opportunities for HR professionals. HR is receiving more attention from companies, and Ryan explained that this is the reason for additional opportunities. He says that the challenge that comes with these opportunities is that the work is going to look a little different.

One of the big trends that Ryan is seeing is a strong focus on recruiting and hiring talent. He said that because many companies did well financially in 2013, more companies are in a position to grow their team in 2014.

“[Organizations] recognize that in order to grow, in order to drive continuous innovation, [they] need the right kind of people and that brings HR to center stage,” Ryan said.

Another trend that he points out is that the workforce is becoming more mobile. In other words, employees are electing to switch jobs more frequently.

“The average employee in the US has been with their employer for less than five years, the average millennial is projected to stay less than two – that creates an entire [new] set of challenges for an organization, and specifically an HR function,” Ryan said.

Several top performers leaving a company can really paralyze the performance of the business, he adds. This trend isn’t going away, so HR will be required to think differently on designing roles, functions and systems to keep up with the more mobile workforce. Ryan believes that HR will be tapped to solve the new challenges that companies will face.

At the 2014 HR Management Conference, he will dive deeper into the topics mentioned above. Ryan will also talk about the requirements of today’s new workforce, why a culture that embraces continuous learning is important, and how HR has shifted from a service-providing function to a function that is driven by capabilities.

Please join us for our March conference to hear more from Ryan and discover the ways in which you need to prepare for the future of work and HR. Visit www.capital.org/hrconf to see the full agenda, session descriptions and speaker bios. Register today!

Woman is Fired for Being Old and Ugly – A Win for the EEOC

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

The post below is a guest blog from Robin Shea who serves as Partner for Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP, CAI’s Partner for the 2013 Triad Employment Law Update.

Robin Shea

Robin Shea, Partner at Constangy, Brooks & Smith

Let’s say your CEO fires a 53-year-old woman and says he’s doing it because she’s “old and ugly.”

If she finds out about it, can she sue for age discrimination?

My guess is 100 percent of you would say, “What are you, stupid? Of course she can!”

The following is a true story: A property management company in Oklahoma hired a new CEO. After his first month on the job, he terminated seven employees, as new CEOs tend to do. The next day, he fired an eighth — a 53-year-old property manager named Ms. Strength.  According to three people, the CEO privately told them that he terminated Ms. Strength because she was “old and ugly” and that he wanted someone “younger and prettier” in her position, and that he didn’t think she could meet potential tenants and entertain existing tenants after work because she was “older.” (The CEO denies having made any of these comments.)

Oh, and the company gave Ms. Strength a letter saying her job had been eliminated, when it actually hadn’t.

As you can imagine, the lawyers at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, having taken a few hits recently, found the case somewhat attractive from a litigation standpoint. In fact, they were like a wild dog smelling red meat.

So the EEOC sued the company on behalf of Ms. Strength for age discrimination, and the company filed a motion for summary judgment. You have to admit, that took nerve. Actually, it probably wasn’t nerve so much as desperation. Juries are notorious for sympathizing with older workers, and the company did not want this case to get to a jury.

I don’t know if there is anything called a “Hail Mary” motion for summary judgment, but there should be, and I believe this was one.

What in the world did the company argue? OK, I’m not saying these are good arguments, but here is what they said:

1. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act requires the plaintiff to show that “but for” a discriminatory motive, she would not have been fired or otherwise subjected to adverse employment action. Assuming that the CEO really made these comments (as the company was required to do at the summary judgment stage), he said that Ms. Strength was fired not only because she was old, but also because she was ugly. Therefore, age discrimination was not his only motivation — “looksism” was the other. And since he had two motives, the company should get summary judgment on the age discrimination claim.

Of course, the court shot this down. First, the court said, just because age has to be the “but for” cause, that doesn’t mean that it has to be the only cause. It’s more like the straw that broke the camel’s back. You can have other causes, but if the discriminatory cause is the one that puts the camel in traction, then the discriminatory cause is still the “but for” cause. My esteemed colleague Donna Ballman pointed this out not too long ago, after the Supreme Court’s decision requiring “but for” causation in retaliation cases.

Second, the court said, the CEO may have thought Ms. Strength was “ugly” only because she was “old.” You know the type, amIrightoramIright?

Strike one!

2. Then the company’s lawyers got even more creative. They were like, Oh, well, even if we have to go to trial on the age discrimination claim, the EEOC shouldn’t be allowed to get more than $100,000 because Ms. Strength admitted in her deposition that she would take $100,000.

(Under the ADEA, a prevailing plaintiff can recover back pay and benefits, front pay and benefits, plus that much again as liquidated damages, and — assuming she had her own attorney — attorneys’ fees, expert witness fees, and costs. In all likelihood, for a 53-year-old with a responsible position, significantly more than $100,000.)

Here’s what happened in the deposition. The company’s lawyer asked her, “If I could write a check to you, what amount would make you happy?” After some objections and argument between the lawyers, Ms. Strength said, “To be treated fairly . . ..” The lawyer said, “I’m asking for a figure. I want to know the amount. . . . You walk out of here today and have a Merry Christmas, what amount would that be?” Ms. Strength said, “100,000.”

Settlement negotiations are normally inadmissible. The EEOC (correctly, in my opinion) said that this was an inadmissible “settlement negotiation,” and also that the EEOC wasn’t limited to seeking what Ms. Strength might have accepted. The court agreed.

Strike two!

3. Finally, both the EEOC and the company moved for summary judgment on Ms. Strength’s alleged failure to mitigate her damages. The court granted the EEOC’s motion and denied the company’s.

(Does that make four strikes? And have I mixed enough metaphors in this post?)

I think the moral of this story if you’re an employer, and especially if you’re in HR or in-house counsel, is to do your best to make sure your executives don’t do stupid things, like firing people because they’re over the age of 50. (Or, for that matter, because they’re ugly — appearance discrimination is against the law in many jurisdictions, plus it’s mean to pick on people just because they’re homely.) Once somebody at the CEO level (allegedly) pulls a stunt like this, there is very little that you can do as a company except to give the plaintiff that check for $100 grand fast, before she changes her mind.

Robin Shea is presenting at the 2013 Triad Employment Law Update on November 5th at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro. In addition to receiving best practices for hiring and firing employees, attorneys from Constangy, Brooks and Smith, LLP will provide you with the most recent updates in state and federal employment law. Register today at www.capital.org/triadlaw.

7 Things You Need to Know from the 2013 Compensation and Benefits Conference

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

2013C+B_Flash3 cropNearly 300 HR professionals and company leaders participated in CAI’s 2013 Compensation and Benefits Conference on Thursday, Sept 19 and Friday, Sept 20 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh. The annual conference focuses on trends and best practices in total rewards.

This year’s event featured four keynote presentations ranging in topics from strategies for a more engaged workforce to a current analysis on 2013 marketplace trends. The conference also had three specific tracks of breakout sessions: Health Care, How-to and Advanced HR.

Highlighted below are some of the key takeaways shared during this year’s presentations:

1)      Involve employees and encourage initiative from them to increase engagement

  • Dr. Bob Nelson’s research revealed that 89 percent of employees want to be involved in decision-making and 92 percent of employees want to be asked for their opinions or ideas.

2)      Regarding total rewards programs at different companies, the following are trending: welcoming work environments, retaining and rewarding top performers, paying for performance, variable pay plans, flexible schedules, and corporate cultures that attract and retain employees.

3)      Under the Affordable Care Act, employers have an obligation to play or pay

  • If you are playing, you must provide coverage that is “affordable” and of “minimum value”
    • “Affordable” = employee contribution for lowest cost employee plan is less than or equal to 9.5 percent of employee’s compensation
    • “Minimum value” = actuarial value of coverage is 60 percent of “essential benefits”

4)      Some common mistakes HR professionals make when executing or preparing for performance evaluations include: not being prepared, giving a higher rating than earned, procrastinating, one-sided dialogue, failure to set aside personal feelings, not taking enough time, and comparing employee performance to other employees.

5)      If health insurance costs seem to be managing your company instead of the other way around, make sure to:

  • Do what you can in your area
  • Educate all key decision makers in your company on the important pieces of health care reform
  • Align yourself with credible, reliable benefits advisors or partners

6)      Top mistakes regarding Wage and Hour regulations include: thinking any person may be an independent contractor, considering salaried employees exempt, averaging work hours and recording work schedule.

7)      Employees who are very satisfied with their workplace benefits are three times more likely to be highly satisfied with their jobs and more loyal to their employer. Only 25 percent of current employees are satisfied with their benefits communication and 55 percent of all employees don’t find benefits materials to be clear and comprehensive (according to Dr. Bob Nelson’s research)

If you’d like more information on the Compensation and Benefits Conference, please go to www.capital.org/compconf.

Fight Back Against Workplace Negativity

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

positive negative workplaceOur environment has a significant impact on our mindset.  Think about the last time you were around a group of positive people having a discussion.  Chances are the topics included reasons for hope, giving people the benefit of the doubt, expecting the best and good things that are happening in the world.

How did you feel during and after that interaction?  Energized?  Excited?  Like everything was going to work out well?

Now…think about the last time you were around a negative discussion.  Maybe it was a group of people gossiping or finding the worst in people, or complaining about work, home, their commute or life in general.  You may have initially tried to resist it, but the conversation sucked you right in.

How did you feel during and after that interaction?  Defeated?  Disgusted?  Like everything is a waste of time?

Negativity seems to have the ability to sneak in and overtake our brain and our feelings.  It’s hard to see positive outcomes when negativity takes over.

And it can be especially difficult to overcome negativity in the workplace in modern times when the negative news can outweigh the positive and we all seem to be busier than ever, yet feel that we are not getting any further ahead.

That’s one of the key reasons we invited Steve Gilliland to be the keynote speaker at our 50th Anniversary Celebration Luncheon on October 23, 2013 at the North Ridge Country Club in Raleigh.  Steve is one of the highest-rated speakers we’ve ever had at our annual HR Management Conference.  In fact, he was so great at our 2009 event that a large number of attendees asked us to bring him back in 2010…and we did.  And again, he hit it out of the park.

Steve’s ability to mix an inspirational message with real life experiences and practical tips for getting the most out of every aspect of life is one of the reasons he was inducted into the National Speakers Association Speaker Hall of Fame last year.

So if negativity is a problem in your workplace and you’d like some tips on how to deal with it, while also helping us celebrate 50 years serving North Carolina employers, please join us for our 50th Anniversary Celebration Luncheon. Steve will inspire you and make sure you are ready to fight the evil forces of workplace negativity!

For more information and to register, please go to www.capital.org/50.

Photo Source: Victor1558