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Jan 242013

This week’s Safe For Work Video looks at transgender discrimination.

In this video, Chai Feldblum, Dan Vale, and Melissa Brand present a brown-bag seminar on transgender discrimination.

Take a look at the video, and be sure to join us this afternoon at 3PM Eastern for The Proactive Employer Radio Show - we’ll be talking with Timothy Long and Lauri Damrell about the various types and forms of gender discrimination.

Jan 232013

equalworkequalpayPaying Employees Fairly: Examining Compensation Systems for Internal Pay Equity

Friday, March 15 from 1:00 to 2:30 PM Eastern

Eventbrite - Paying Employees Fairly: Examining Compensation Systems for Internal Equity

The last three years have brought major changes in the legal and regulatory environment regarding compensation discrimination, and there are even more changes on the horizon. These changes affect the policies and procedures employers need to have in place to combat pay discrimination. The compensation review is a valuable tool in the employer’s risk management arsenal, yet few organziations put this tool to use. Employers can no longer afford to ignore this important tool.

In this webinar, we discuss how employers can manage the risk of pay discrimination claims by conducting a compensation review. Each stage of the compensation review is discussed, from the planning stage through the application of analysis inferences to business processes. Common pitfalls and data issues are discussed, and the importance of proper grouping of employees for comparison purposes is emphasized. Concrete examples drawn from real-life situations are used to illustrate each step in the review process and to highlight the effects of common pitfalls.

Areas covered inlude:

  • Recent changes in compensation discrimination laws and regulations;
  • Compensation challenges presented by the evolving legal and regulatory environment;
  • How a compensation review can assist in mitigating the risk of a compenstion discrimination lawsuit;
  • Successfully planning the compensation review project;
  • Types of compensation that can be examined by a review;
  • Construction of similarly situated employee groupings;
  • Identification of the determinants of compensation;
  • Pay data collection, assembly and cleaning;
  • Common compensation data pitfalls;
  • The use of multiple regression analysis to examine compensation for internal equity;
  • Evaluation of analysis results in terms of statistical significance, practical significance, sample size and explanatory power of the model;
  • Follow up investigations of potential problem areas identified in the analysis;
  • Making adjustments to compensation based on analysis results;
  • The importance of compensation decision documentation.

This program has been submitted to the HR Certification Institute for review.

About Your Presenter: Stephanie R. Thomas, Ph.D., is the CEO of Thomas Econometrics Inc. She is a noted authority on compensation gender equity and the quantitative analysis of discrimination. Dr. Thomas provides consulting services to Fortune 500 companies, major law firms, and government agencies such as the Department of Justice and the FBI. She has testified as an economic and statistical expert on questions of discrimination in employment decisions in federal and state courts throughout the United States.
Eventbrite - Paying Employees Fairly: Examining Compensation Systems for Internal Equity

Jan 212013

timothylonglauridamrellDealing with complex gender discrimination issues in the workplace is very challenging. From pay to promotion to pregnancy, employers are facing risks they may not be prepared to manage. Understanding what these risks are, and knowing what internal processes you should have, and what data and documentation you should maintain is a critical component of reducing these risks and ensuring your workplace is free of gender discrimination.

In this week’s episode of The Proactive Employer, we speak with Timothy Long and Lauri Damrell  about gender discrimination. We’ll discuss why gender discrimination is a family issue, not just a women’s issue. We’ll talk about the growing popularity of multi-million dollar gender discrimination suits and the trends in gender discrimination investigations from regulatory agencies. We’ll discuss specific vulnerabilities for employers in the areas of pay, promotion and pregnancy discrimination, and provide some practical suggestions for employers on how to avoid gender discrimination lawsuits, and what to do should an employer find itself involved in complex gender discrimination litigation.

This show will air on Thursday, January 24th at 3 PM Eastern / 12 Noon Pacific on BlogTalkRadio.

The show will be available for on-demand listening at The Proactive Employer website, on BlogTalkRadio and via iTunes following the broadcast.


Jan 182013


For those employed in the teaching profession, there is usually a student here or there that knows how to push your buttons and “make your blood pressure soar.”

But for one longtime high school teacher, her rare phobia causes a fear of young children and literally creates physical symptoms such as a dangerous spike in blood pressure and she has taken legal action against school district administration for alleged discrimination.

Maria Waltherr-Willard had been teaching Spanish and French at Mariemont High School in Cincinnati for more than three decades when she was transferred to the district’s middle school in 2009. According to Waltherr-Willard, the seventh and eighth grade students she was forced to work with triggered her phobia compelling her to retire in the middle of the 2010-2011 school year.

She is suing the school district contending that her condition, pedophobia: fear or anxiety around young children, falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act and that the district violated the ADA by transferring her, refusing to allow her return to teaching at the high school level and pressuring her to resign.

School district attorney, Gary Winters, states that she was transferred because the French program was being converted to an online learning program and that the middle school was in need of a Spanish teacher.

But, Walter-Willard believes her transfer was based, at least partially, upon retaliation for comments made to parents and her assistance in fighting the district’s decision to cut French classes in favor of the online course. Her attorney, Bradford Weber, in a July 2011 letter to the EEOC, stated that her transfer was, “the beginning of a deliberate, systematic and calculated effort to squeeze her out of a job.”

Waltherr-Willard, who has no children of her own, has supposedly suffered from the phobia since the 1990s and claims that Mariemont had been sympathetic of her diagnosis and had made previous assurances to her and her lawyer that she would not be required to teach young children.

In addition to being treated for the phobia, the lawsuit states that she also suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, high blood pressure and a gastrointestinal illness: conditions she was apparently managing well prior to her transfer.

Documents filed on her behalf from her medical doctor, psychiatrists and psychologists state that when she is around young children she experiences extreme stress and anxiety with chest pain, vomiting, nightmares and dangerously high blood pressure.

Her doctor said that at times, after the transfer, her blood pressure was so high it posed a stroke risk. Aside from physical symptoms, her doctor has also noted that “the mental anguish suffered is serious and of a nature that no reasonable person could be expected to endure.”

Walter-Willard is seeking past and future pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney’s fees. Winters, denying her claims, says that her motivation is merely financial. She just wants money. He adds that, “our goal here is to provide the best teachers for students and the best academic experience for students, which certainly wasn’t accomplished by her walking out on them in the middle of the year.”

A federal judge recently dismissed three of the six claims in her suit stating that the school district lived up to its written contract – with the teachers union – and had she not willfully retired, Waltherr-Willard would still be employed.

No ruling was made on the other allegations, awaiting district response and a tentative trial date is scheduled for February 2014.



Jan 112013

Hilda SOlisHaving taken the opportunity over the holidays to reflect on her past and her future, Hilda Solis has made what she claims to be one of the toughest decisions she has ever faced and has announced her resignation as Secretary of Labor.

As the first Latina to lead a federal agency, Solis leaves her four-year tenure with the Obama administration to, “begin a new future” and return to her roots and the people and places she loves in California.

Solis believes she has much to be proud of as she prepares to step down. “Growing up in a large Mexican-American family in La Puente, California, I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to serve in a president’s Cabinet, let alone in the service of such an incredible leader,” she says.
In response to her resignation announcement, President Obama issued a brief statement wishing her well and praising her service. Calling her a “tireless champion for working families,” Obama stated that Secretary Solis has “been a critical member over my economic team as we have worked to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and strengthen the economy for the middle class.”

He added that her efforts have helped train workers for the jobs of the future, protect workers’ health and safety and put millions of Americans back to work.  He said, “I am grateful to Secretary Solis for her steadfast commitment and service not only to the Administration, but on behalf of the American people.”

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka credits Solis with bringing “urgently needed change to the Department of Labor, putting the U.S. government firmly on the side of working families.” He notes that under her direction, “the Labor Department became a place of safety and support for workers,” and that Solis “never lost sight of her own working-class roots,” always putting the values of working families at the center of all she did.

He has urged the president to pick a successor who, as he points out, “will continue to be a powerful voice both within the Obama administration and across the country for all of America’s workers.”
Although no specific date has been mentioned, Labor Department officials expect Solis’ departure to be around the time of the inauguration later this month. While talk of her replacement is mere speculation at this point, Solis’ resignation could intensify pressure on the White House to consider diversity in its Cabinet appointments.

According to Solis, “Leaving the department is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, because I have taken our mission to heart. As the daughter of parents who worked in factories, paid their union dues and achieved their goal of a middle class life, and as the first Latina to head a major federal agency, it has been an incredible honor to serve.”