Posts Tagged ‘Advice and Counsel’

What You Need to Know from the 2013 Triad Employment Law Update

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

TELU-HeaderCAI hosted its annual Triad Employment Law Update on November 5. The event was held at the beautiful Grandover Resort in Greensboro and more than 160 HR professionals and company executives attended the conference to obtain the latest updates in state and federal employment law.

The knowledgeable attorneys from Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP gave several presentations related to the most recent changes in regulations. Topics the attorneys discussed included termination procedures, off-duty conduct, new decisions from the NLRB, health care reform and immigration issues.

Below are several important takeaways from this year’s conference:

The NLRB and Social Media Policies

  • Employees using social media to complain about their employers may be engaged in protected concerted activity under the NLRA
  • Policies cannot inhibit “protected concerted activity,” such as posting complaints
  • Board continues to issue policy guidance on a variety of social media cases
  • Recent rulings by NLRB’s administrative law judges have invalidated employer social media policies

Health Care Reform and Employee Benefits

  • The one-year penalty delay will allow employers to plan coverage issues more carefully, determine full-time employees, and project additional costs.
  • Do not put health care issues aside until next year – use this time to analyze, discuss, and plan to prevent surprises.
  • Suggested actions to take
    • Identify all common law employees (temps, interns, contractors, etc.)
    • Identify any possible variable hour or seasonal employees
    • Determine if plan provides “minimum value” and is “affordable”

Background Check Compliance

  • Employer can conduct own background check
  • If a consumer reporting agency is used to obtain consumer report, Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), as amended by Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act applies (FACTA).
  • Steps an employer must take:
    • Notify employee in stand-alone written notice that it is obtaining a consumer report and get employee’s written consent
    • Give employee notice of proposed adverse action (along with copy of report and FTC summary or rights form)
    • Wait a reasonable period of time before taking adverse action and give notice of same to employee

Perfecting Termination Procedures

  • Some tips to consider:
    • It’s recommended to have someone of the same gender as the person being terminated included in the procedures for several reasons, such as safety and empathy
    • Terminating on Friday afternoon is not recommended because the terminated employee has many more opportunities to be in contact with family and friends after the work week, which might cause them embarrassment and frustration.
    • Don’t come off too apologetic and have policies and performance evaluations ready
    • Always cover how they will be able to collect their belongings if they are given the opportunity

Interviewing in the Hiring Process

  • Review the job description and make sure your questions match up to the duties and responsibilities
  • Avoid questions that might appear discriminatory or offensive
  • Avoid questions that could be construed as having illegal motivation
  • Structure interview questions and develop a scoring criteria
    • Consider using a licensed psychologist to help develop
    • Avoid telling applicants that they are hired during an interview
    • Don’t speculate about the possibility of employment, length of employment or otherwise
    • Remain consistent among applicants

For further assistance on staying compliant with state and federal employment laws, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Best Practices for Form I-9s When Managing a Remote Workforce

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

In today’s video post, Advice and Counsel Team Member Renee’ Watkins offers best practices for completing Form I-9s when workers are in remote locations. She says that many times employers face logistical challenges when complying with Form I-9 verification for staffers who don’t work in the office.

USCIS provides an employer handbook, the M274, to assist with completing form I-9. However, Renee’ says the guidance on the information for remote workers is limited. She then gives information about the details the M274 provides, such as employers are allowed to designate someone (ex. foreman, personnel officer or agent) to assist them in filling out Form I-9s.

Renee’ says an employer may designate any person to be their agent to complete Form I-9 for remote employees. She also notes that you may use a notary as your agent but Form I-9 does not need
to be notarized. If you decide to use an agent to assist in completing Form I-9s for your remote workforce, Renee’ says they must be credible, trustworthy, and trained in properly completing Form I-9s. You’ll also want to establish standard operating procedures for the agent and employees completing the forms.

For additional questions regarding Form I-9s and remote workers, please call a member of CAI’s Advice Counsel Team at 919-878-9222 or 336-668-7746.

Behaviors that Define Positive Leadership

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

George PortsCAI’s Advice and Counsel Team answers several questions from members daily. Many questions the Team receives concern leadership and how people in power should interact with their employees. Here’s a question that many employers have:

Can leaders demand respect simply because of their position or title?

In today’s post, Advice and Counsel Team Member George Ports offers guidance for this employer issue:

The obvious answer to this question is NO!!!

Leaders earn respect leading by example, “Do as I do” rather than “Do as I say.” They earn respect by being up front and honest with their employees, treating them with “dignity and respect.” Dignity and respect goes both ways.

Observations that I have made over the years of behaviors that define “positive leadership” are as follows:

  • Positive leaders are people builders, they are in the construction business, not the demolition business.
  • Positive leaders are fair and consistent when administering organization policies and procedures.
  • Positive leaders encourage an open two-way flow of communication.
  • Positive leaders do not leave their employees in the dark creating an atmosphere of anxiety and insecurity.
  • Positive leaders recognize the need for responding to employee issues and concerns in a prompt manner.
  • Positive leaders work in conjunction with HR to ensure that internal pay equity is maintained among employees.
  • Positive leaders take up for their employees, stand behind and support them when necessary.
  • Positive leaders never take credit for employee accomplishments and ideas—they always give credit and praise where such is due.
  • Positive leaders work diligently to create an atmosphere of teamwork, a culture where every job and person is important, avoiding a “we/they”  relationship.

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”

— General Douglas MacArthur

If you have any questions regarding leadership, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.

Our Employee Was Unauthorized to Work in the US But Is Now Legal

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team answers several questions from members daily. A recent question the team received was– We had an employee who has worked for us for years come forward with new documents and advise us that he is now legal. What do we do?

 Pat Rountree 5x7 300dpiIn today’s post, Advice and Counsel Team Member Pat Rountree supplies an answer to this workforce-related issue:  

If an employee tells you they were illegal but now have legal documentation, you have a choice:

  1. accept the new documentation and keep the employee if the documentation appears valid; or
  2. take disciplinary action under your policy if you state that falsification of employment records is grounds for discipline.

There is nothing illegal about keeping the employee if you accepted the original documentation in good faith and it appeared valid, and if the new documentation appears to be valid. If you are using E-Verify, you will find out whether the new information is indeed valid.

The next question you have to ask is, “what is our policy in regards to employee falsification?”

If you have a policy that results in discipline for falsification of records and you treat this situation differently because it is a “good employee,” it begs the question of whether you are being inconsistent with your policy. Also, if you want to terminate the employee and rehire for the same reason, you should review your policy on rehires to see if employees who are terminated for cause for other reasons are allowed to return. Other employees often are aware of these situations and look to see how they are handled by the employer.

Review the situation, your policy and past practice. If your policy does not require you to terminate, verify that the new documents are valid and complete a new I-9 and attach it to the original, along with a memorandum for record describing the actions taken by the employer in regard to the I-9 form.

If you have questions about this issue, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.

Minimizing Potential Liability for Workplace Harassment Issues

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

John GuptonCAI’s Advice and Counsel Team answers several questions from members daily. One question that the team members often receive deals with workplace harassment—what should our organization be doing to minimize our potential for liability for workplace harassment issues? In today’s post, Advice and Counsel Team Member John Gupton provides a number of solutions for minimizing harassment at your workplace:

In regard to the issue of unlawful workplace harassment, a company must show that it took immediate and appropriate action to eliminate the offensive conduct. Prevention is the best tool for avoiding harassment charges. For this reason, employers should:

  • Maintain a written policy on harassment, communicate it to all employees, and provide multiple avenues for employees to register any complaints.
  • Provide training to supervisors on a regular basis.
  • Make it clear to all supervisors and employees that harassment on the job will not be tolerated.
  • Place particular emphasis on the company’s strong disapproval of this conduct.
  • Require members of management to report any known harassment.
  • Thoroughly investigate any claims of harassment.
  • Provide appropriate discipline in cases of harassment.

Furthermore, under EEOC enforcement guidance, an employer’s workplace harassment policy must prohibit harassment on all protected categories, not just sex harassment (i.e., harassment on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, genetic information and disability status). According to these EEOC guidelines, the policy must include at a minimum:

  • A clear explanation of the prohibited conduct.
  • Assurance that employees will be protected against retaliation.
  • The ability to make a complaint to more than just the employee’s immediate supervisor.
  • Confidentiality– to the extent possible.
  • Prompt, thorough and impartial investigations.
  • Assurance that the employer will take immediate and appropriate corrective action when it determines that harassment has occurred.

If you have questions regarding harassment, please contact a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel Team at 919‑878‑9222 or 336‑668‑7746.