Originally presented on April 14, 2011
In California, meal and rest period requirements have played a huge role in the wage and hour litigation scene for over five years now. In fact, the issue has grown into the “lawsuit du jour” for both individual lawsuits and class actions.
IThe incentive for the flood of litigation is the remedy for failing to provide the meal (and rest) periods as required: An extra hour of pay at the regular rate for violations of each of the meal and rest requirements, respectively.
But even well-intentioned employers have been stymied by the vague nature of the rules. What does it mean to “provide” a meal or rest period? How far should you go to ensure that employees take these mandated breaks?
Originally presented on April 12, 2011
When people return from family and medical leave, they’re entitled to their old jobs back, right?
Well, not always. What happens when:
* The department’s been restructured and the person’s position has been eliminated?
* The person isn’t fit for duty, even with a reasonable accommodation?
* You uncover a serious performance- or discipline-related issue that happened before the person went out on leave?
What now? While FMLA and CFRA afford employees many rights, those rights aren’t absolute. Yet telling someone not to come back after leave – regardless of how justified that decision may be - is a surefire recipe for a costly lawsuit.
Originally presented on April 11, 2011
Recruiting is very much a numbers game - you want to search for candidates in the largest pool of qualified people. The Internet and its users top the 2.3 billion mark, with LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook users accounting for approximately one-quarter of that base!
That’s a big talent pool – maybe too big. How do you winnow it down to find the candidates who are a great fit for you?
With a little time and effort, you can create a social media recruiting strategy that will help fill your open positions, build a stronger brand for your organization, and develop a robust referral network.
Originally presented on April 7, 2011
We’ve all heard the old saw about one bad apple spoiling the whole barrel – and it’s not just true out on the farm.
In your workplace, negative attitudes, rampant gossip, and vocal criticisms can bring a whole department down – even if it’s just one or two problem employees in an otherwise stellar team. And if you don’t catch the problem early, it’s increasingly hard to correct.
Originally presented on April 6, 2011
Great employees don’t automatically make great supervisors. There’s a whole lot they need to learn first about people management, paperwork, and compliance with various state and federal laws.
If your new supervisors - your “first line of defense” – aren’t fully up to speed, you’re setting yourself up for costly (and preventable) turnover, as well as potentially devastating lawsuits brought by disgruntled employees and former employees.
Originally presented on March 31, 2011
It’s far cheaper to keep an existing customer than find a brand-new one. And the same is true of your existing employees.
Given what it costs to find and train new hires, as well as the time and energy involved in getting them up to speed on customer/vendor relationships and the way your company works, you’re far better off nurturing your existing employee relationships. And employee surveys are a key part of that.
But if you don’t ask the right questions, you’re just wasting everyone’s time rather than gathering valuable data.
Originally presented on March 30,2011
In today’s workplaces, emailing, texting, blogging, tweeting, and the Internet are a way of life. So are electronic records.
You may have had your old HR recordkeeping system down flat, but it’s a whole new world when you get rid of the paper and move to digital. How do you ensure security of your electronic files? Can you toss the original of a document once you’ve scanned it into your system? Are there any records you must keep the paper originals of? What sort of system should you have in place for gathering all of these new e-records?
Originally presented on March 29, 2011
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are becoming increasingly popular, both in and out of the workplace. You may have deputized certain employees to speak on your behalf on these and other sites, or they may just be hanging out there on their own time.
Either way, it’s important to keep track of what they’re doing – and saying – so that you can protect your company’s reputation.
It’s great when social-media-savvy employees help build your web presence and brand recognition, drive revenue, and create real-time connections with your clients and customers. It’s not so great when they “go rogue” and say unflattering things – or, even worse, compromise your trade secrets.
Order this in-depth webinar – specifically for California employers - about what HR can do to help protect your company’s reputation and intellectual property in the age of social networking.
Originally presented on March 28, 2011
Gov. Schwarzenegger has just signed A.B. 2774 into law. The new provision creates a rebuttable presumption that a serious violation exists if the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) can show a “reasonable possibility” that death or serious physical harm could result from a violation.
Previously, DOSH was required to show a “substantial probability” – a more burdensome standard of proof than what’s required of them now.
The change makes it much harder for employers to win an appeal of a serious violation citation.
Originally presented on March 23, 2011
Whether an employee leaves voluntarily or goes kicking and screaming, there are a number of wage/hour rules you need to keep in mind regarding final pay. And they can get nit-picky and confusing, especially here in California. All sorts of questions arise:
Is accrued vacation considered part of final pay? Does it matter whether the worker’s employment ended voluntarily or involuntarily? Can you withhold the final paycheck until the worker returns expensive company equipment? Can you demand immediate payment on the balance of a loan extended to the departing worker? Can you deduct from final pay for theft or damage?
Don’t forget about the change-in-relationship letter either. Do you have those bundled up tight? Many California employers don’t - even though they’re required under state law.
Originally presented on March 17, 2011
“How old are you?” “Are you married?” “Where are you from?”
Most managers in California know that these questions are off limits during job interviews – they can lead to claims that you passed over job candidates on the basis of age, disability, gender, race, religion, or other protected characteristics.
However, that poses huge challenges when you (and your frontline supervisors) conduct job interviews: You don’t intend to discriminate, but you do need to ask lots of probing questions to screen applicants thoroughly and find the best fits for your open positions.
Deciding which questions you should ask – and how to ask them legally – can be very tricky business, and even the most innocent-sounding questions you throw out when making conversation with an applicant could come back to haunt you later in a legal claim or lawsuit.
Originally presented on March 10, 2011
Transforming rank-and-file workers or new hires into effective frontline supervisors is a huge challenge in California. For many reasons, great employees don’t always make great managers:
*They must learn how to give – rather than follow – directions.
*They must make the transition from team member to team leader, learning how to coach and discipline workers who were once their peers (and may still be their friends).
*They must help you boost morale and retention despite tough economic times, a skill not required of your average employee.
*They must learn the legal dos and don’ts of supervising to avoid legal mistakes that could cost you big bucks and lots of embarrassment.
Many brand-new supervisors have never been trained how to manage, and they’ve probably had at least a few poor role models over the years. Now, they need a firm hand to point them in the right direction
Originally presented on March 9, 2011
Retaliation claims are now the most-frequently filed type of claim at the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), surpassing Title VII discrimination and harassment claims as of 2009.
This is particularly troubling for employers because aggrieved employees don’t need to prove their underlying discrimination or harassment claims to win on retaliation claims.
All they need to show is that they engaged in a protected activity, such as complaining about alleged workplace discrimination or harassment, and that they were subjected to an adverse employment action as a result. This is true even if there was no illegal discrimination or harassment to begin with. It’s easy to see why internal investigations are a breeding ground for retaliation complaints.
Originally presented on February 18, 2011
Defending your company against class-action litigation risks related to compensation systems is a complicated job..
Bonus pay, commissions, deductions, reimbursements – any one of these issues can create a litigation nightmare for you and your company if you don’t handle it properly. Your good intentions won’t help you at all, and the fact that you do business in California makes compliance just that much more complicated.
Originally presented on February 17, 2011
Wage and hour class actions under state law – or “collective actions” under federal law - have emerged as one of the most significant employment law trends of the past 10 years. Statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor estimate that almost 70% of employers aren’t in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – a percentage that almost certainly increases when similar violations under state law are taken into account.
Non-exempt workers are entitled to overtime. That much we all know. But just how much overtime premium pay they’re entitled to in a given overtime workweek can get tricky when you factor in shift differentials, bonuses, incentive pay, piece-rates, commissions, and many other kinds of compensation, as well as the fact that some non-exempt workers may be paid on a salary basis instead of hourly.
Failing to pay workers what they’re owed can have dire consequences for your organization since employees are usually entitled to an additional amount as liquidated damages on top of the unpaid wages - which could mean you’re on the hook for payouts that are far beyond the amount of any unpaid wages.
Originally presented on February 15, 2011
AB 1825 requires California employers with 50 or more employees to conduct sexual harassment prevention training every two years. Because most employers designate a “training year” for the entire workforce rather than training employees individually, and because the training mandate took effect in 2005, retraining occurs for most organizations in odd-numbered years like 2011.
Are you ready? Now’s the time to find out exactly what you need to know – before you start your training this year.
Originally presented on February 7, 2011
The medical certification rules are designed to help you verify whether a request for leave—be it long-term or intermittent—is protected under FMLA/CFRA..
But what happens when the employee repeatedly "forgets" to give the cert form to his or her doctor, or fails to return it by the specified deadline? And what if the healthcare provider (HCP) is actually the obstacle in your path?
Originally presented on February 3, 2011
Even for experienced supervisors and HR managers, travel pay standards can prove very confusing. The rules change quickly, based on whether workers are commuting or traveling on assignment, whether they're driving their own cars or company vehicles, and whether they're exempt or non-exempt. Plus—surprise!—California has its own travel pay/expense regs that don't always match the federal guidelines.
Originally presented on January 28, 2011
Chrysler recently fired 13 employees who were caught using alcohol and marijuana on their lunch hour. While Chrysler’s response was unquestionably appropriate, sometimes the situation is not so clear-cut for employers. What if you employ a recovering alcoholic who has a relapse? What if one of your employees uses marijuana to treat her glaucoma?
It’s your obligation to keep drugs and alcohol out of your workplace, and to appropriately discipline employees who violate your policies. But you also need to be careful not to overstep the bounds imposed by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), and other applicable laws.
Originally presented on January 27, 2011
It’s no secret that obesity is a growing problem in California’s workplaces. One in four California residents are now considered obese. Weight-related diseases account for nearly 10 percent of medical spending—everything from heart disease treatments to diabetes medications. And, each overweight employee can cost you almost $17,000 every year in extra absences, healthcare expenses, and “presenteeism” (showing up too tired or ill to work effectively).
In the past, the California Supreme Court and federal courts have ruled that obesity itself is not a disability, with few exceptions. But, the rules are now changing very quickly
How can you audit your workplace policies and practices to prepare for the coming wave of obesity discrimination litigation?
Originally presented on January 26, 2011
You get a letter from the workers’ comp claims adjuster stating that if you can’t provide modified duty to your injured employee, then the insurance company will settle the claim and get a compromise and release (C&R).
Great. Settling the case means you can put your obligations to rest if you can get the worker to agree to “voluntarily” separate from employment.
In that case, you’ll be done with him or her forever, right? Not exactly. Just ask the countless employers who’ve been sued for violating the state and federal anti-disability-bias laws for not properly recognizing—and addressing—the legal risks stemming from their return-to-work decisions.
Originally presented on January 25, 2011
Commissions can be a great way to boost the entrepreneurial spirit of your sales staff. A commission-based compensation strategy rewards them for their hard work and gives them the incentive needed to help grow your business.
But questions often arise about how the language in commission-based sales agreements should be interpreted. And the litigation it takes to get those questions answered can completely destroy the positive effect of those extra sales—and then some.
Originally presented on January 21, 2011
According to a report published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, an average of 1.7 million people annually in the United States are victims of violent crime while working or on duty. It’s no wonder that there always seems to be a new tragedy in the headlines.
The first question is nearly always Why?, followed shortly by How can we prevent it from happening at our workplace?
Dealing with workplace investigations (from simple "he said, she said" arguments to discrimination and harassment complaints) is probably not one of your favorite tasks as an HR professional. The worst part about playing detective is conducting investigation interviews—getting truthful information from your employees about what happened and why.
From preparing question lists and handling the interview logistics to sorting conflicting answers, dealing with frightened or hostile witnesses, and documenting these conversations, you're facing a daunting list of interview dos and don'ts. And, if you make any mistakes along the way, you could make things much worse
Originally presented on January 19, 2011
What’s the true test of how good your recordkeeping practices are? Generally, it’s when you’re under the
microscope with a government agency for some employment practice that allegedly violates state or federal law, or when you’re embroiled in an employee lawsuit.
Unfortunately, by then it’s generally much too late to remedy any problems with the records you’ve kept or—even worse—erroneously destroyed.
Don’t wait for a governmental inquiry or a lawsuit to gauge whether your recordkeeping practices are in check with recent updates to the law, or to find out that you got rid of a crucial personnel record before its time.
Originally presented on January 12, 2011
Between your high-achieving overperformers and your barely-registering-a-heartbeat slackers, there’s a huge playing field in which the rest of your employees struggle every day to meet your expectations. And there are lots of ways for them to fall short:
They may lack the skills and training needed to do their jobs – or their job requirements may have changed over time, but their managers haven’t caught up yet.
They might be dealing with family problems or other matters outside work that are distracting them more than they realize.
They could be doing things that they don’t honestly realize are violations of your workplace policies.
Originally presented on January 10, 2011
Many HR professionals measure their success in the workplace by the number of “fires” they put out daily, the employee questions and complaints they resolve, and the dent they make in the mountain of paperwork on their desks.
But in today’s uncertain economy, your bosses want to judge you by a different standard: the bottom line. They want to know if your HR work is a profit driver – or a cost center. They’re asking you to use objective, hard numbers to measure your effectiveness. So, if you haven’t mastered the arithmetic and the strategies of HR metrics, you’re losing ground.
Originally presented on January 5, 2011
The ringing in of the New Year brings with it new state and federal regulations, legislation, and court decisions that California employers need to be on top of. But what’s most pressing? What do you really need to act on rather than just monitor?
Join us for our in-depth webinar and find out. Our expert presenter – a seasoned California-based labor and employment attorney - will debrief you on the hottest labor and employment topics on the horizon for 2011.
In just 90 minutes, you’ll get valuable insight into which wage and hour practices the DLSE and DOL are expected to pay extra close attention to in 2011, why the EEOC is taking issue with using credit checks as screening tools, how unionized workplaces in California can benefit from meal and rest break legislation in effect as of January 1, and more.
Originally presented on December 21, 2010
It's now official: 2010 will end with more U.S. employers adding workers than cutting jobs, surveys confirm – a huge reversal from last year, when organizations were shedding positions left and right. And, for many HR professionals, that means a buyer's market as you search for the very best fits.
No matter how the economy is doing, though, you're still facing the same daunting challenges with new hires – from sorting through the deluge of applications and vetting resumes to asking legally permitted interview questions and getting workers started off on the right foot. And no matter how careful you are, you're still rolling the dice: Forty-six percent of new hires leave their jobs by the end of the first year.
Originally presented on December 20, 2010
If you’re concerned about the impact of social media on the workplace, you’re not alone.
According to a recent poll by Right Management, social media sites like Facebook (which to date has more than half a billion users) are some of the most heavily trafficked on the Internet—both in and out of the workplace. About 50 percent of the employers surveyed blocked employees’ access to popular sites at work, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
Plus, in addition to productivity concerns, employers are also justifiably concerned about what employees are saying about their employers on social media sites. Just one negative “tweet” could have a huge, potentially irreversible, impact on your company’s good name.
Originally presented on December 16, 2010
Transforming rank-and-file workers or new hires into effective frontline supervisors is a huge challenge. For many reasons, great employees don’t always make great managers:
They must learn how to give – rather than follow – directions.
They must make the transition from team member to team leader, learning how to coach and discipline workers who were once their peers (and may still be their friends)
They must help you boost morale and retention despite tough economic times, a skill not required of your average employee.
They must learn the legal dos and don’ts of supervising to avoid legal mistakes that could cost you big bucks and lots of embarrassment.
Originally presented on December 15, 2010
n June, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Ontario, California police department didn’t illegally invade an officer’s privacy when it reviewed the messages he sent and received via his department-issued pager.
The key takeaway for employers is clear: Employers must have both well-written, clearly communicated electronic monitoring policies and legitimate business reasons for peering into their employees’ files or electronic data.
Originally presented on December 9, 2010
Follow These Best Practices to Identify and Fix Overtime Exemption Problems—and Reduce Your Legal Risks in 2011
Your workers are 10 times more likely to take you to court over overtime claims and other wage/hour disputes than discrimination complaints.
Federal and California regulators are auditing employers much more aggressively these days, as they search for substantial tax penalties in today’s tough economy.
California’s “sue your boss” law (PAGA) gives your employees a big incentive to report even the slightest overtime discrepancies.
Even if you make an honest mistake, you could be on the hook for several years of back wages and benefits for every single employee involved in the case (plus, legal fees and possible penalties).
Originally presented on December 7, 2010
Your leave of absence policy states that employees will be terminated if they can’t return to work once they max out their available medical leave. Legal? Probably not, and expensive to defend for sure.
A recent settlement between EEOC and Sears, Roebuck illustrates just how serious the federal agency is about challenging no-fault/automatic termination policies and how expensive having such a policy can be. As a condition of settlement, Sears will pay a staggering $6.2 million for its policy.
Originally presented on December 6, 2010
In March, President Obama signed the new federal healthcare reform law, and this fall the first major round of new regulations took effect. But many employers around the country are still trying to figure out the fine print.
It’s a huge challenge, because those new rules cover everything from the end of coverage limits and preexisting condition exclusions to coverage extensions for dependent children.
Meanwhile, 2011 will bring a flood of brand-new regs (from healthcare cost disclosures on your employees’ W-2 forms to restrictions on flexible spending accounts), with even bigger changes coming down the road (remember those state-by-state health insurance exchanges?).
Originally presented on December 3, 2010
Medical certifications may just be the most effective tool in your arsenal for combating abuse of leave rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). They provide valuable insight into whether a claimed condition qualifies as a serious health condition.
Surprisingly, though, many employers don’t take advantage of this powerful weapon for combating abuse. As a result, they’re left second-guessing whether an employee’s ailment qualifies them for protected leave.
Originally presented on November 19, 2010
As an HR professional, you’re well aware that employees in "white-collar" jobs—that is, in administrative, professional, or executive capacities, or in outside sales or commission-based capacities—aren’t entitled to overtime compensation. You also know that determining whether one or more of these exemptions applies requires careful analysis of their job descriptions and the actual tasks they perform.
But, as you’ve probably found in practice, oftentimes the line between exempt and non-exempt classifications can become blurred. This means delving into the nitty-gritty details of employees’ everyday functions - sometimes with their knowledge, but many times without.
Originally presented on November 18, 2010
Most HR professionals in California have their hands full with regular day-to-day operations. But lurking just beneath the surface are hidden legal dangers that pose enormous legal and financial risks down the road—everything from employee handbooks that haven’t been updated in years and frontline managers never trained in the latest HR regs to misclassified employees and mistakes in approving leave and PTO requests.
Making matters worse? Most HR professionals simply don’t have the time to keep up with all of the big legal and regulatory changes coming at them from all sides—especially in an employee-friendly state like California.
Originally presented on November 16, 2010
2011 is right around the corner, and it’s an excellent time to review the status of your legal compliance efforts in the areas of wage/hour, recordkeeping, meals and breaks, and more.
Join us for an in-depth webinar to get ready and find out what’s been signed into law, what was vetoed, and what’s coming at you in the year ahead. You’ll learn:
The latest developments on meal and rest breaks, recordkeeping, and more
Key legislation that died on the table in 2010
How to ensure your employee handbook and policies are current and effective
Steps you can take right now to boost your compliance and reduce your risk of lawsuits
The status of federal pro-union initiatives, and why even non-union employers should be concerned
Originally presented on November 15, 2010
Noncompete agreements have never been popular in California, as judges here routinely side with departing employees. And in 2008, the California Supreme Court effectively quashed the issue completely, ruling in Edwards v. Arthur Andersen that employers cannot restrain an employee’s ability to compete, period, regardless of how reasonable or narrow the restrictions.
Since then, California employers have scrambled to figure out what they can do lawfully to prevent employees from skipping out the door with their client lists, proprietary files, and trade secrets in hand.
Originally presented on November 12, 2010
As you’re probably well aware, nonexempt employees who regularly work overtime can bolster their annual compensation by hundreds or even thousands of dollars. And that’s money that can have a significant impact on your organization’s bottom line
Cutting overtime compensation can be an effective way to rein in your costs, but you must be careful that your cost-cutting strategy doesn’t deprive nonexempt workers of pay they’re legally entitled to. If you take it too far, you risk staggering penalties and fines under both state and federal law
Originally presented on November 8, 2010
Holiday parties – what could go wrong? Food…employees…booze…loosened inhibitions…driving… As it turns out, plenty can go wrong.
Just like mom always said, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt, and the odds of someone getting hurt (and/or sexually harassed) increase exponentially anytime you host a booze-soaked shindig for your workers. Even if you’re extremely careful about serving liquor, or avoid it entirely, you still take on a lot of responsibility and potential liability when you assume the role of party host.
Originally presented on November 5, 2010
At-will employer? Then your managers can terminate an employee at any time for any reason or no reason, right? Basically true, but dumb. If you terminate for no reason, and the employee alleges discrimination, how will you defend yourself? “I fired him for no reason, judge.”
Terminations are legal minefields. Terminated employees will claim they were fired because of some protected trait or activity and not because they were not meeting your legitimate business expectations. Even if you’re an at-will employer—and most of you are—there are certain pre- and post-termination strategies you must follow to effectively fend such lawsuits.
Originally presented on November 4, 2010
"Document, document, document." That's the # 1 rule you follow in HR to protect your organization from legal risk and track compliance with workplace policies.
In everyday practice, that rule means not just paper, but electronic records – and lots of them. From online applications and HRIS/payroll entries to benefits forms and progressive discipline notes, your computers and servers are bursting with millions of electronic files and folders. Add to that your scanned-in paper documents, emails, text messages, intranet/blog posts…and on it goes.
Originally presented on October 28, 2010
California employers all struggle with managing FMLA intermittent leave, and it’s no surprise. Things get especially tricky when an employee repeatedly calls in without notice or shows up at work only to say that he or she needs to leave mid-shift due to some chronic ailment—migraines and back pain are favorites—or to handle a family-related medical issue.
In the first place, you have to address whether the absence really qualifies as a FMLA or CFRA leave. Then, you have to make sure that you’re properly designating and tracking the time off—not to mention the employees who think intermittent leave is a “free pass” to miss work anytime for any reason without consequence.
Originally presented on October 27, 2010
Today’s companies are increasingly tying compensation to performance, and that means more bonuses and fewer raises. Yet in the drive to motivate future performance and company success, it is surprising how few companies realize the disguised overtime risks associated with bonus and other incentive programs.
Bottom line, if you're paying bonuses and incentives, you probably owe overtime on those payments, and it's not all that easy to calculate how much to pay. What pay periods do the incentives cover? How to you apportion bonus payments across hours worked? These are not easy questions.
Originally presented on October 26, 2010
Even if you do everything right – your employee handbooks are updated, you treat your workers right, you follow federal and state employment laws to the letter – you're still likely to get sued someday.
Litigation against California employers is on the rise in today's tough economy, and you could be hit by claims from your workers (upset about everything from wage and benefits cuts to more stressful conditions on the job) or by government regulators (eager to collect penalties and settlements).
Originally presented on October 25, 2010
Dealing with worker absences is probably one of the least favorite parts of your job as an HR professional.
Given the broad and overlapping array of state and federal laws covering family leave, workers’ comp, and disability issues, it’s extremely difficult to make sure you’re in compliance with everything that applies. It’s also hard to calculate how much leave a given employee is entitled to.
Originally presented on October 22, 2010
Change looks good until it is met by employees steadfast in their ways and unwilling to embrace a new way of doing things! Even with some of the best-laid plans, your project or procedures seem to get delayed or derailed, causing frustration, uncertainty, and insubordination.
Unfortunately, leaders can't accomplish changes alone. Without employee buy-in and support, it's hard to accomplish what you hope to, and complete failure is not unlikely.
Originally presented on October 20, 2010
If you make paycheck deductions for equipment, tools, uniforms, meals and lodging, and cash shortages, tread carefully. While some deductions may be legal, not all are. Further, in addition to having to comply with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, you’ve got to comply with California’s strict wage and hour requirements.
Plus, there are myriad other concerns, such as whether you must have an employee’s consent in writing before certain deductions are made, and what to do when the IRS or a court orders an employee’s wages to be garnished.
Originally presented on October 19, 2010
In the average eight-hour workday, guess what your frontline managers and supervisors spend a full 60 to 90 minutes doing, according to recent surveys? Keeping the peace!
From hurtful gossip to co-worker flare-ups, workplace conflicts can quickly drain energy and destroy morale. That means decreased productivity, unnecessary distractions for your supervisors—and higher costs and legal risks for your organization.
Originally presented on October 14, 2010
California business owners are scratching their heads, perplexed about medical marijuana—how do you balance the needs of employees who have prescriptions to legally use marijuana, the employer's obligation to accommodate employees with disabilities, and the employer's policies that create a drug-free, safe and healthful work environment.
In California, legalized medical marijuana use is wreaking havoc on everything from conducting random drug testing to amending business’ zero-tolerance approach to employees working while under the influence of drugs. And it beings a host of other issues, like what is your liability if a person taking marijuana hurts someone while on the job.
Originally presented on October 13, 2010
Meal and rest period requirements have played a huge role in California's wage and hour litigation scene for more than five years—indeed, the issue has grown into the litigation du jour for both class and individual actions.
The excitement had its genesis in the passage of AB 60—which restored daily overtime as well as codifying the requirement that employers provide meals periods (Labor Code Section 512) and the passage of AB 2509 which added the meal period remedy provision to the Labor Code (Section 226.7).
Originally presented on October 12, 2010
An employee wants to return to work following a workers’ comp injury, but you’re just not convinced she’s physically capable of handling the job, plus you find the timing suspect given the fact that her disability payments are going to run out soon.
An employee appears depressed and begins to exhibit erratic behavior at work—so much so that you feel that he could endanger himself or his coworkers.
An employee out on family and medical leave presents a medical certification stating she can return to work but only on a part-time basis, and she may need to be absent intermittently for follow-up medical treatment.
Is a fitness-for-duty exam justified under any of the above circumstances? What about a mandatory leave of absence, termination, or reassignment?
Originally presented on October 5, 2010
Wage and hour claims are on the rise in California, outstripping every other type of employment litigation. Sources say your workers are 10 times more likely to take you to court over pay disputes than discrimination claims. And, the stakes are high—because, if you lose, you could be on the hook for several years of back wages and benefits for every single employee involved in the case! And that's to say nothing of still legal fees and possible penalties.
To make things worse, over the past 12 months, federal and California courts and regulators have issued a flood of new rulings and guidelines that have changed the way employers across the Golden State should prevent, anticipate, and defuse potential wage and hour claims. If you’re not up to speed on these changes, you’re putting your company—and yourself—at risk!
Originally presented on September 24, 2010
You are probably doing a great job at putting out fires and dealing with the never-ending challenges of California HR: hiring, firing, motivating, enforcing, and digging out from under that mountain of paperwork.
However, these days, your bosses want to judge you by a different standard: the bottom line. They want to know if your HR work is a profit driver—or a cost center. They’re asking you to measure the effectiveness of your work in objective, hard numbers. Today, if you haven’t mastered metrics and how to communicate the value of HR, you’re losing ground!
Originally presented on September 23, 2010
Discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims and lawsuits have skyrocketed across the country in today's recession-stricken economy--and, it's much worse in California. For every 1 million employees in California, about 1,000 employment discrimination complaints are filed annually!
Over the past 12 months, federal and CA courts and regulators have issued a flood of new rulings and guidelines that have changed the way employers across the Golden State should prevent, anticipate, and defuse potential discrimination complaints. If you're not up to speed on these changes, you're putting yourself at risk this year!
Originally presented on September 22, 2010
Hiring the wrong person creates instant headaches for line managers and team members--headaches like can't do the job, won't do the job, challenges company policies at every turn, is prone outbursts, or worse, is violent. And all that's to say nothing of the HR headaches when you eventually have to fire the person.
Don't wait until after you've hired someone to find out that you've selected the wrong candidate. Find out before you hire. You can legally sift through all of the available information before you offer someone the job--thorough background checks, probing interview questions, and, yes, sometimes even social media!
Originally presented on September 16, 2010
Sometimes, complaints are just a worker feeling a little disgruntled. But there are some complaints that should have sirens going off in your head. When employees come to you with complaints concerning harassment, discrimination, theft and/or violence, or potentially illegal activity. pay close attention to what they have to say—and prepare to do an investigation.
Unfortunately, it's all to easy to jump into an investigation and get it wrong. And that just compounds your problems. You need to be prepared now so you are ready when the time comes. Your preparation and knowing how to conduct a thorough investigation will give your company the best insight on what caused the complaint and how to deal with it.
Originally presented on September 15, 2010
You sank $25,000 into a computerized timekeeping system, so no worries when the federal or California investigators come knocking to take a peek at your wage and hour records, right?
Wrong. It's a myth that you can rely on a computer system to keep you out of trouble. You may think you’ve got your bases covered, but there is far more to tracking hours than you might expect.
Originally presented on August 31, 2010
All jobs today have stress; how do you know when stress has reached the level of a disability? How can you (and should you) accommodate a mental illness? And what do you dare say to an employee when you "think" there's a problem?
(Warning: The first question your employee's attorney will ask is: "Are you a trained psychologist?")
The ADA, FMLA. FEHA complicate every situation, and workers' comp isn't far behind. And, by the way, neither are the lawyers.
Originally presented on August 26, 2010
Many a good idea falls to the wayside when the financial team starts asking questions about ROI, cost-accounting and even the dreaded cash flow analysis! They certainly grasp your brilliance, but can’t get past the lack of financial justification for your new project or staffing plan. And frankly, it feels like they are just throwing roadblocks your way just to slow down the process or even derail it! Or maybe—you just haven’t learned the language of business to walk the financial talk to properly address their questions!
In business, sometimes if you can’t beat ‘em, so join ‘em. It's time to learn how to think and speak like a finance person. Not only should you master the lingo, you should also be able to know which data they want to see, what metrics impress them, how to analyze your figures and report the findings as if you were a CFO. By breaking down the barrier of communications, your ideas, budgets and staff plans can be presented as financially viable and well-thought out, giving you the upper hand as a manager.
Originally presented on August 25, 2010
Performance improvement plans (PIPs) can be a valuable tool in your discipline arsenal. When written and implemented effectively, they can help curb poor performance and behavioral issues, maximize productivity, and help you objectively measure workers’ improvement or lack of progress after disciplinary or behavioral issues surface - and let them know exactly what’s expected of them.
PIPs also can be a powerful legal tool, helping to demonstrate that your company had legitimate, lawful business reasons for discipline and, ultimately, termination.
Originally presented on August 24, 2010
A majority of employers (54 percent) surveyed earlier this year by ERI’s parent company, Business & Legal Resources, said their organizations offer comprehensive paid time off (PTO) plans rather than traditional individual policies for vacation, sick leave, and personal leave. That’s an 11 percent increase over the 43 percent of employers moving toward PTO banks in 2007, when BLR last conducted its employee benefits survey.
While the use of PTO banks continues to rise, managing unscheduled, unexpected absences can get tricky, especially when workers are out intermittently or for only part of a workday. Also, employers have important legal obligations regarding how they calculate time that will be carried over from year to year.
Originally presented on August 23, 2010
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) approved new forms and requirements for its EEO-1 employer report that went into effect in 2008. These changes were the first major amendments to the EEO-1 process in 40 years--and they haven't made the process any easier. Most employers are still unsure about how to comply with these new obligations!
If you have at least 100 employees (or, if you're a federal contractor with at least 50 workers), you have just a short time left this fall to gather data on your workers and prepare the 2010 EEO-1 report. With new classification and job categories on the form, resurveying your workers and classifying them properly is more confusing than ever before.
Originally presented on August 18, 2010
What's the number one headache in HR?" For most managers, it's dealing with family and medical leave requests. It’s doubly difficult in California, because you’re forced to comply with both the federal FMLA and the state CFRA. And the two don’t always agree:
Under federal rules, you can ask employees why they’re taking paid leave—but you can’t ask in California unless the workers are requesting sick leave.
California passed its own law governing leave for pregnancy-related disabilities that, combined with other types of family leave, can mean up to 29 weeks of combined time off.
Federal FMLA forms allow doctors to indicate a diagnosis showing why an employee needs leave, but California law forbids this unless your employee consents. (You’re even prohibited from asking for second opinions, in some cases.)
Originally presented on August 17, 2010
We're all adjusting to an evolving workplace that is challenging our brain's bandwidth. With email, texting, social networking and video messaging, we're in an electronic maelstrom. Couple that with being overworked and always in a rush, it's a world that could make even the best of our workers say or do something inappropriate or unethical.
Whatever the reason, shaky ethics and etiquette blunders can easily blossom into major public relations disasters and worse--lost customers, lost reputation, lost revenue.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys are eager to pounce on employers that misclassify IT workers as exempt from overtime - class-action lawsuits against high-tech employers are lucrative and increasingly common, leading to million-dollar payouts for unpaid overtime, penalties, interest, and legal fees.
Potential class members include system, web, and database administrators; systems analysts; IT specialists; network engineers; and help-desk support workers. Even high-level network engineers with advanced certifications may be entitled to overtime in certain circumstances.
Originally presented on August 16, 2010
Yes, it's a tough economy, but that makes keeping your workforce happy more important than ever, especially since your workers are probably clocking longer hours and juggling more responsibility than ever before.
In fact, almost 90 percent of U.S. employers offer employee recognition programs, according to a recent national survey, and more than half want to offer their workers something new this year.
Originally presented on August 5, 2010
We’ve all worked with morale suckers - those employees who continually gripe about everything, causing team friction and lessening overall productivity.
They do their jobs just well enough that you tip-toe around the attitude, figuring there isn’t much you can do to sweeten these sour apples. After all, these are the workers most likely to sue you if you try to get rid of them - especially if they happen to belong to one or more protected classes. It’s probably just easier to continue tolerating them, you think.
WebinarOriginally presented on July 20, 2010
Many HR professionals spend their days putting out fires and dealing with the never-ending challenges of motivating and retaining workers, enforcing employment policies and regs, and digging out from under that mountain of paperwork that never seems to get any smaller.
However, your bosses (and the marketplace) are judging you now by a different standard: the bottom line. They want to know if HR is a profit driver—or a cost center. They’re asking you to measure the effectiveness of your workforce in objective, hard numbers. So if you haven’t mastered the best ways to communicate the value of HR to them, you’re losing ground.
WebinarOriginally presented on July 19, 2010
Between picking the very best new hires and terminating your worst performers, there’s a huge playing field in which the rest of your employees struggle every day to meet your expectations. And their success depends in large part on how well your frontline supervisors coach and motivate them.
There are many reasons employees don’t perform at the level they should..
WebinarOriginally presented on July 14, 2010
Turning your frontline supervisors into great bosses—managers who’ve mastered the art of coaching, supervising, and developing the skills of employees—isn’t as simple as it sounds.
In many workplaces, it’s easy to spot the managers no one wants to work for, but it’s much tougher figuring out how to transform your run-of-the-mill managers into highly respected, effective leaders.
WebinarOriginally presented on July 12, 2010
In an average week in the U.S., one employee is killed and at least 25 are seriously injured in violent assaults by current or former co-workers. Even when things don't turn violent, conflicts between employees can lead to poor productivity, an unpleasant working environment, and preventable turnover.
Your supervisors are on the front lines of these conflicts, and training them in effective conflict resolution techniques can mean the difference between a harmonious, efficient workplace and discord - or even tragedy. Plus, the better they are at nipping things in the bud, the less involvement and time is required from you on the HR end.
WebinarOriginally presented on June 29, 2010
Unfortunately, there's no way to ensure that your organization won't be sued for sexual harassment someday. But there are ways to both reduce the risk of this happening and minimize the potential damage if it does.
Proper training and investigations are the foundations of a smart defense, of course, but what else can you do? What has worked well for other employers in the past? Learn More
Virtual Boot CampOriginally presented on June 17, 2010
As an experienced HR professional, you know and understand the employment laws that apply to your workplace. You know why it's a bad idea from a legal standpoint to terminate an employee without warning, to move an employee who's complained about harassment to a different department or shift, to neglect performance evaluations.
But do your supervisors?
Your frontline supervisors are your first line of defense - often your only line of defense - between your company and a nasty lawsuit. And no matter how well-informed you and the rest of the HR department are, that knowledge is wasted if your supervisors aren't "walking the walk" with your employees.
WebinarOriginally presented on June 16, 2010
Transforming rank-and-file workers or new hires into effective frontline supervisors is a huge challenge. For many reasons, great employees don't always make great managers:
WebinarOriginally presented on June 15, 2010
2009's sweeping changes to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) contain several provisions relating to requests for medical certifications. For instance, the regulations increase the amount of time an employer has to request certification from 2 days to 5 days after receiving notice of a worker's need for leave.
The regulations also provide employers with greater leeway in authenticating medical certifications and allow them additional opportunities to request certain information from a medical provider. The catch? This leeway comes with increased compliance requirements. One small slip, and your organization could find itself in a huge legal mess.
WebinarOriginally presented on June 10, 2010
Baby boomers are working longer these days. That could be one reason for the spike in the number of age discrimination claims filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in recent years. Regardless of the reason for the surge in claims, one thing is clear: Combating age bias has become a top priority for the EEOC.
Following its public hearing last summer to explore the "devastating impact" of age-based employment decisions and its continued commitment to crack down on employers that break the law, the EEOC has issued a Proposed Notice of Rulemaking on "reasonable factors other than age" (RFOA) employers may use to determine who should be considered for promotion or termination.
WebinarOriginally presented on June 8, 2010
You deal with employee leaves all the time, and you likely see the same situations come up over and over again:
The fact that tricky situations like these come up on a regular basis doesn't make them any easier to deal with, especially when you throw other state and federal leave laws (like ADA/FEHA and workers' comp) into the mix along with FMLA/CFRA.
WebinarOriginally presented on June 3, 2010
Maintaining a professional-looking workforce is a growing headache for many California employers. Today's super-casual employees present many unique challenges with what they wear on the job -- from eyebrow piercings to Goth makeup, tube tops to flip flops, micro skirts to arm-length tattoos.
Striking the proper balance between requiring appropriate dress among your workers and respecting their legal rights can be very tricky -- especially among younger employees who may never have worn "business clothes."
WebinarOriginally presented on June 2, 2010
Technology is changing the face of the American workplace in a variety of ways. Many of those changes are spurred by the challenges and opportunities presented by the Internet. The Internet can be a great resource for employees and employers alike, but it can also lead to a whole new world of negative exposure and risk. This is never truer than when you have an employee (or former employee) who has a grudge along with a platform—like a blog or a Facebook page—that allows it to be broadcast to the world. . . .
WebinarOriginally presented on May 27, 2010
In 2009, the top 10 U.S. wage-and-hour lawsuits against private employers were settled for a staggering $363 million, according to a recently released workplace litigation report. Couple that with the fact that both state and federal agencies are hot on the heels of employers who owe for unpaid overtime, and it's clear that overtime-related enforcement and litigation is becoming a major headache for employers. . . .
WebinarOriginally presented on May 25, 2010
Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that approximately one million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed each year. Already, nearly 24 million Americans age 20 or older have the disease. These figures also show that approximately 57 million people in the United States have pre-diabetes; accordingly, you're likely to see more employees with diabetes in the years to come. . . .
WebinarOriginally presented on May 21, 2010
As an HR professional, you need to be able to communicate effectively with all levels of your organization: from rank-and-file employees, to frontline managers, all the way up to the C-suite. But this is a skill that even the most experienced HR people too often lack -- sometimes the issue is a lack of confidence. Other times, it's a failure to communicate ideas clearly through words and visuals. If you're not able to communicate well, you're just not as effective in your job as you could be. . . .
WebinarOriginally presented on May 20, 2010
Are you sure you've properly determined who is—and isn't—entitled to overtime at your organization? If you haven't recently conducted an internal exemptions audit, there's no time like the present. New stepped-up enforcement efforts are striking terror in the hearts of employers all over California, and with good reason. According to a recent workplace litigation report, the 10 largest private wage and hour settlements in 2009 totaled more than $363 million, with half of the settlements stemming from lawsuits filed in California federal or state courts. . . .
WebinarOriginally presented on May 18, 2010
Many employers follow a consistent, time-tested formula when dealing with rule-breakers or underperformers: Coach them to improve their skills, apply progressive discipline and issue warnings, and ultimately terminate them if necessary. . . .
WebinarOriginally presented on May 14, 2010
As an HR professional, you know that recordkeeping isn't just about knowing which employment records you need to hang onto (though this information is certainly important). To truly master the art of recordkeeping, you must also be able to anticipate thorny issues that could arise concerning your retention, storage, and destruction practices so you can fix any problems before they cause you legal grief. . . .
Virtual Boot CampOriginally presented on May 7, 2010
Rigorous, Intensive Webinar Training From the Comfort of Your OfficeAs an HR professional, you've got your work cut out for you. From calculating who's eligible for leave to handling tracking and scheduling issues, you walk a delicate and time-sensitive legal tightrope. One wrong move, and you could find yourself accused of wrongdoing not just under the family leave laws, but also under related laws like the state Fair Employment and Housing Act and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. . . .
WebinarOriginally presented on May 6, 2010
Now more than ever, employers find themselves making personnel changes for a number of reasons. Because times are still tough, former employees and their lawyers are scrutinizing all termination decisions -- even perfectly legitimate ones -- with a fine-toothed comb, looking for possible legal claims. Even if you're extremely careful and proceed with the best of intentions, California's termination requirements are highly technical and possess many traps for the unwary. . .
WebinarOriginally presented on April 29, 2010
To be successful in strategic planning (and the HR field generally), you must have an excellent grasp on project management. Knowing how to effectively design, develop, and implement a project from start to finish is critical for on-time and on-budget completion. Strategy is about doing the right things, and implementation is about doing things right - both halves of the equation are essential. Most of us could use a brush-up on at least some aspect of our project management skills, and it's an area where even small gains can mean measurable improvements. . . .
WebinarOriginally presented on April 22, 2010
It's no surprise that, given the tough economy, employee theft is on the rise. It's also a surprisingly common crime: Studies show three in four workers will steal on the job at least once - and half of those employees will do it again. In fact, an employee is 15 times more likely than a customer or a stranger to steal from you, and experts say 75 percent of these thefts will go largely unnoticed. . . .
WebinarOriginally presented on April 15, 2010
Onboarding is the first major piece of the retention puzzle. With most new hires taking a full two months to fully commit to their new employers, effective orientation strategies can mean all the difference between them second-guessing their decision to come work for you and their motivation to become productive (and loyal) team players right out of the gate. . . .
WebinarOriginally presented on April 13, 2010
Employees' understanding of the benefits they're being offered is key to enrollment success, a recent survey by Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company and Employee Benefits News revealed. Given the changing healthcare landscape, plus the shifting perceptions of the value of benefits, an effective employee benefit communications strategy is now more important than ever. . . . Learn More
WebinarOriginally presented on April 9, 2010
Why do so many California employers struggle these days with unscheduled, unexpected absences by their workers? Here's the #1 reason: Two out of three employees who fail to show up for work aren't staying home because they're sick. Recent surveys say that 21 percent miss work to handle "family issues," another 18 percent are dealing with "personal needs," and the rest claim they're stressed or simply need a day off. . . . Learn More
WebinarOriginally presented on April 6, 2010
Tracking and administering intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) is extremely tricky. It's no wonder why: You have to make sure employees have met the requisite cumulative 12 months of service and 1,250 hours worked in the year prior to the leave, and that's just for starters. Then you need to determine when leave entitlement arises: When you learn of the request for leave, or when the first absence relating to a medical condition occurs? . .
WebinarOriginally presented on April 1, 2010
What's the most critical step in preventing many workplace problems? Finding and hiring the best employees in the first place. That's easier said than done, even in a recession. Recruiting and hiring the most qualified workers who are the best fit for your organization can be extremely challenging—from sorting through online applications and vetting resumes to asking legally permitted interview questions. . . .
WebinarOriginally presented on March 31, 2010
The "Great Recession" of 2008 and 2009 is winding down, according to a growing number of economists and media outlets. National surveys now predict that pay raises for U.S. workers will rebound this year, after a rough patch last year in which one in four employers across America gave no raises at all. . . .
WebinarOriginally presented on March 25, 2010
Dealing with workplace complaints—from racial bias to sexual harassment to threats of violence—is a huge part of your job as an HR professional. It's probably not one of your favorite tasks, either. You're dealing with a double-edged sword: You have a clear legal duty to investigate complaints promptly and resolve them fairly—but if you make any mistakes along the way, you could wind up in even more hot water than when you started. . . .
WebinarOriginally presented on March 23, 2010
Some workers backstab to get a leg up over their colleagues. Others can't seem to keep their mouths shut at the water cooler, spilling secrets about coworkers, managers, or your organization as a whole to anyone who will listen. Some refuse to work with others on achieving common operational goals. And some are star performers who rack up great numbers but make everyone around them miserable. . . .
WebinarOriginally presented on March 22, 2010
Telecommuting's appeal shows no signs of slowing down -- and why would it? Workers enjoy the flexibility and freedom, while employers appreciate the reduced overhead. More and more workers of all stripes are hopping aboard the telecommuting bandwagon -- and that's where the trouble can start. . . .
WebinarOriginally presented on March 19, 2010
In today's workplaces, emailing, texting, blogging, tweeting, and the Internet are a way of life. So are electronic records. You may have had your old HR recordkeeping system down flat, but it's a whole new world when you get rid of the paper and move to digital. How do you ensure security of your electronic files? Can you toss the original of a document once you've scanned it into your system? Are there any records you must keep the paper originals of? What sort of system should you have in place for gathering all of these new e-records? . . .
WebinarOriginally presented on March 18, 2010
The news on healthcare reform is changing daily. Now more than ever, you need to know the bottom line on how federal healthcare reform could affect your organization. You also need practical guidance on how to comply with recently enacted legislation that increases your burdens under several federal statutes, including COBRA, HIPAA, and ERISA. . . .