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Feb 042013

lester_rosenEmployers have long recognized that conducting due diligence on new hires is a mission critical task. Firms cannot afford to be sidetracked by employee problems such as workplace violence, theft, false resumes, embezzlement, harassment or trumped-up injury claims. Employers can be sued for negligent hiring if they hire someone they should have known, through the exercise of due diligence, as dangerous, unfit, dishonest or unqualified.

In this week’s episode of The Proactive Employer, we’ll be talking with Les Rosen about the top 10 trends and best practices for 2013 when it comes to background checks and safe hiring. We discuss the use of social networking sites, the EEOC approach to the use of criminal records and credit reports, international background screening, resume fraud, dealing with temporary workers, privacy and off shoring of personal data, and tools to protect against workplace violence. We wrap up the conversation with some legally compliant best practices to keep businesses productive and out of court, as well as steps businesses can take immediately to avoid a bad hire.

This show will air live on Thursday, February 7th at 3 PM Eastern / 12 Noon Pacific on BlogTalkRadio.

Tweet your questions using the hashtag #TPESHOW or call in at 1-888-553-6673 to talk to our guests. The show will be available for on-demand listening at The Proactive Employer website, on BlogTalkRadio and via iTunes following the broadcast.


Feb 012013

isabelperezAs a result of a supposed message from God, one long time human resources professional was fired after a mere two weeks working in her new position.

Isabel Perez, who had been employed in HR for 15 years at the time she accepted a position as HR Director for Ashley Furniture Home Store, is married to a woman and claims that her manger fired her based on her sexual orientation stating that God told her to after she noticed a sticker in support of gay rights on Perez’s vehicle.

Surprisingly, in many states, it is legal to fire someone for being gay. However, in Perez’s favor, New Jersey is not one of them and she has decided to file suit.

Perez, who began working for Ashley in 2011, states that even in her first interviews she suspected that her sexual orientation could pose an issue. During the interview process, she apparently was questioned about the ring on her finger and inquiries were made about her view of hiring gays and African Americans.

At the time, Perez openly voiced her beliefs regarding equal employment but dodged questions regarding her marriage. While she admits, “It was uncomfortable,” she says. “As a human resources person, you think, ‘I’ll be able to change the culture…this is a point I could bring up later and discuss.’”

Perez was not successful in changing the culture and attitudes within the company and in her extremely short tenure was given gender and race specifications for job openings. She claims to have been directed by executives to hire only women or white people for certain jobs and to avoid hiring gays or lesbians.

Immediately objecting to the stipulations, she was told that maybe she didn’t fit in. In what may have been the final straw, Perez was warned, “you won’t last here,” by an employee processing her human resources paperwork which indicated that she had a female partner.

Not long after that, the chain’s director of People Services and Development, Kathy Martin, spotted a Human Rights Campaign sticker on Perez’s car, and questioned Perez about it. During the conversation, Martin stated that she needed to speak to God about the matter.

The following day, just two weeks into her employment, Perez was fired and told by Martin in a meeting between the two and a sales manager that God had spoken to Martin and that while the termination was not performance related and that Martin believed Perez could “easily manage the entire department,” she just didn’t “fit the culture” and that her “beliefs just don’t fit.”

“I had just given up everything to join an organization, thinking I could change the culture,” says Perez, who believes that she was retaliated against for standing up to discriminatory comments and standing up for her own sexual orientation.

Perez has acquired a new sense of purpose through her ordeal. In addition to filing suit in New Jersey, where it is illegal for private employers to terminate an employee solely on their sexual orientation regardless of the employer’s beliefs, she plans to bring awareness to the fact that there are no federal laws protecting gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans. She adds, “I have to make a difference within the human resources community.”

Jan 252013

swine-flu-at-work-coughing-jerk‘Tis the season: flu season. You’re coughing, sniffling, achy, and feverish. While climbing back into bed with the box of tissues by your side sounds like a great idea, do you do it? Or do you drag yourself to work?

If you are one of the estimated 40% of American workers who have no paid sick days, it’s likely that you will dose up on some over the counter medication and head to work.

Under current U.S. labor law, employers are not required to provide short-term paid sick days or longer-term paid sick leave causing tens of millions of workers to go without paid sick time. Millions of workers each year go to work sick resulting in decreased productivity and increased risk of spreading germs and illness to co-workers, clients and customers.

As the number of flu cases increases, so does the debate surrounding paid sick leave. While we can probably all agree that if you’re sick the best place for you is at home resting, getting well and keeping your germs to yourself. But for many, their financial situation and workplace policies dictate otherwise.

For Diana Zavala, a school speech therapist working as an independent contractor, missing work was not an option even though she was feeling miserable and fearful she had caught the flu. As she puts it, not having paid sick time creates “a balancing act” between physical health and financial well-being.

According to Connecticut Representative Rosa DeLauro and Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who are calling on colleagues in the House and Senate to cosponsor the Healthy Families Act (HFA), it doesn’t have to be this way. DeLauro, who initially introduced the plan with Senator Edward M. Kennedy back in 2004, plans to reintroduce HFA with Harkin in mid-February.

Under the HFA, workers would be eligible to earn up to 1 hour of paid sick time for each 30 hours worked, up to 7 days of leave.

But many employers and small business owners, while sympathetic to their employees’ situations, find themselves in the midst of their own financial struggles and say requiring them to pay employees for sick days would impose an unrealistic and impractical burden.

It’s a tough call: assist employees at the cost of the company or vice-versa? We mustn’t forget the other important dynamic that needs to be taken into consideration: the well-being of customers and clients.

While paying a sick employee for the day off might not be the best financial option for your business, neither is losing customers because your barista is making the morning lattes while hacking with a cough, a sneezing waitress is delivering lunch to the table or a feverish executive is spreading more germs than ideas around the conference table.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, compromises can be made to protect the interests of all involved: employers, employees and consumers.

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