Want That Promotion? Watch What You Wear

Posted on Tue, May 28, 2013

What you wear to work may affect your chances for promotion, according to a recent survey by Office Team, an employment agency that specializes in administrative staffing. Eighty percent of executives interviewed admitted that clothing choices affect who they choose to promote. 

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Tags: dress code, dress code at work, promotion, employees, HR Allen Consulting Services, Employers, HR Informant

$240 Million Disability Discrimination - Largest EEOC Verdict Ever!

Posted on Mon, May 13, 2013

On May 1, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that an Iowa jury awarded damages totaling $240 million — the largest verdict in the federal agency’s history — in a lawsuit related to disability discrimination and severe abuse.

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Tags: employees, HR Allen Consulting Services, Employers, HR Informant, EEOC, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, disability discrimination, disability-based wage discrimination

Colorado Marijuana Users Can Be Fired, Says Court

Posted on Tue, Apr 30, 2013

A Colorado court ruled that an employer can still fire an employee for a positive marijuana drug test, even though state law permits the medical and recreational use of marijuana.

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Tags: employees, California, HR Allen Consulting Services, Employers, HR Informant, termination, Colorado, Inc., medical marijuana, medical marijuana use, Ross v. RagingWire

Bosses Have Crazy Requests For Employees

Posted on Fri, Apr 19, 2013

Almost one in four workers (23 percent) who took part in a recent survey by CareerBuilder.com reported being asked to perform tasks that fell well outside the “job related” category.

The survey turned up many interesting and unusual requests made by bosses, including:

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Tags: bosses, other duties as assigned, strange requests, employees, HR Allen Consulting Services, Employers, HR Informant

New I-9 Form Effective Date

Posted on Wed, Apr 17, 2013

On March 8, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the revised Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9, and published a notice in the Federal Register.

In the initial announcement, USCIS described when employers can no longer use prior versions of Form I-9. USCIS incorrectly described the effective date as being after May 7, 2013.

USCIS published a correction notice in the Federal Register. This notice corrects the error and clarifies that beginning May 7, 2013, employers may no longer use prior versions of the Form I-9.

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Tags: Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I9, employees, HR Allen Consulting Services, Employers, HR Informant, USCIS, : Form I-9

Employee Complains About Sexual Jokes On Twitter, Then Fired

Posted on Wed, Mar 27, 2013

A tech company, SendGrid, recently fired a female employee, Adria Richards, who used Twitter to complain about sexual jokes made by male employees from a different company.

During a conference in San Francisco, Richards tweeted that it was “Not cool” that the men were making inappropriate sexual jokes. She used her phone to take a picture of the men sitting behind her and then used Twitter to post the picture.

One of the men in the photo was terminated by his employer, San-Francisco based PlayHaven.

But Richards also found herself in the middle of a social media storm and was ultimately fired by her employer. SendGrid CEO Jim Franklin blogged that Richards was not fired because she reported offensive conduct, but because of how she reported it – using Twitter to post photographs and “publicly shaming” the offenders.

Franklin also went on to say that Richard’s actions caused division amongst the developer community that Richards serves as part of her job and that she can no longer be effective. 

But this is what often happens when an employee complains of inappropriate conduct: A complaint is made, which may create division at work and with customers; people may take sides. Regardless of such division and the ultimate outcome of any investigation, the employee is supposed to be protected from retaliation for complaining of harassment or discrimination.

This situation poses difficult questions: Can an employee complain in any manner he/she sees fit? Airing information across social media platforms and posting pictures of co-workers, customers or collaborators? 

The law provides strong protections for those who complain about harassment or discrimination. As demonstrated by recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board, the law also protects employees who engage in concerted activity with other employees to improve their working conditions — which may include employees complaining to each other over social media.

The San Jose Mercury News 
explored the legal ramifications of the situation. Discussing the incident, Rob Pattinson, a Jackson Lewis attorney who represents employers, remarked, “It’s a tough one … The law is strong in protecting people who make complaints of harassment, or who participate in an investigation about complaints of harassment.”
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Tags: Retaliation, sexual harassment, protected activity, employees, HR Allen Consulting Services, Employers, HR Informant, NLRB, social media

3 Tips To Sharpen Your Listening Skills

Posted on Wed, Mar 20, 2013

Businesses in the U.S. and U.K. lose $37 billion a year simply because workers do not fully understand their jobs, according to a new IDC white paper commissioned by Cognisco, an employee-assessment specialist. Their confusion results in unplanned downtime, regulatory penalties, and other costs to companies.

Communicating effectively is a must-have leadership skill, one that’s essential to managing employees and growing a business. Although we have more tools than ever for sharing ideas — from texting to video conferencing — it seems that everyone is talking, but very few of us are truly listening. It’s imperative that employers and employees learn not only to hear each other out, but also to process what’s being said.

Here are three tips for sharpening your listening skills.

  1. Don’t multitask. We live in a world of smartphone and computer alerts. Resist the temptation to check in every time one goes off. Studies show that our productivity drops by 10 percent whenever our focus is interrupted by unrelated sounds, so you’re better off checking messages later. Meanwhile, respect your colleagues by giving them your undivided attention when they are speaking to you.
  2. Repeat what you hear. Studies show [PDF] that we only retain about half of what we hear, and our retention rate drops to about 25 percent a few days later. By practicing active listening techniques, we can hold onto more of that information — and put it to better use. Simply listen to what a person says and then repeat it back. (Paraphrasing is OK.) This has two benefits: It illustrates that you’ve heard what someone has said, and it ensures that you’ve understood the message as intended.
  3. Ask questions. While someone is sharing information with you, ask questions related to the topic at hand. This demonstrates that you’re listening and forces you to remain an active part of the conversation. Great leaders actively solicit feedback from employees, and great employees show they are engaged in projects by asking questions that will improve their odds of success.
by  Stephanie Faris
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Tags: Productivity, communication, employees, HR Allen Consulting Services, HR Informant

IRS Provides new Withholding Information; 2013 W-4 Still not Released

Posted on Fri, Jan 11, 2013

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released updated income-tax withholding tables for 2013 reflecting recent changes by Congress to address the “fiscal cliff.”

The updated income tax withholding tables show the new rates in effect for 2013 and supersede the tables issued on December 31, 2012. The updated tables contain the percentage method income-tax withholding tables and related information that employers need to implement these changes. 

According to the IRS:

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Tags: IRS, 2013 income tax withholding tables, income tax withholding tables, Internal Revenue Service, payroll taxes, W-4 form, employees, HR Allen Consulting Services, Employers, HR Informant

San Jose Approves Increased Minimum Wage

Posted on Thu, Nov 08, 2012

Voters in San Jose agreed this week to hike the city’s minimum hourly wage to $10 per hour — $2 per hour above the state minimum wage. 

San Jose is now the second city in California to set its own minimum wage. Three other cities nationwide set their own minimum wage: Washington, D.C., and Santa Fe and Albuquerque, N.M. 

The first California city to set its own minimum wage, San Francisco, did so in 2003. The current minimum wage in San Francisco is $10.24 an hour. The San Francisco rate increases to $10.55 an hour beginning January 1, 2013. 

The San Jose law applies to employers who either maintain a facility in the city of San Jose or who are subject to the city’s business license tax (Chapter 4.76 of the city’s municipal code). 

Like San Francisco, the new San Jose ordinance comes with a posting requirement for employers. Employers will be required to post a notice setting forth the current San Jose minimum wage rate. 

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Tags: employees, HR Allen Consulting Services, Employers, HR Informant, California minimum wage, San Francisco minimum wage, San Jose minimum wage

What Employers Should Know as Election Time Nears

Posted on Wed, Oct 17, 2012

The General Election is on November 6, 2012. Employees have certain rights to take time off to vote, and employers have posting obligations.

Time Off To Vote
If an employee does not have sufficient time outside of working hours to vote in a statewide election, the employee may, without loss of pay, take up to two (2) hours of working time to vote. The time off must be taken at the beginning or end of the regular working shift, whichever gives the employee the most free time for voting and the least time off from working.

You and the employee may mutually agree to a different part of the working shift when the time off can be taken. The employee must notify you at least two (2) working days in advance to arrange a voting time.

Posting Obligations
Employers must display a poster describing voting leave requirements at least 10 days before every statewide election. For a copy of the voting leave poster, and all required posters and notices, see the Required Posters for the Workplace page on HRCalifornia and visit the CalChamber store to purchase.

Sharing Information With Employees
Employers are within their rights to communicate with employees about issues, regulations, legislation or ballot measures that will have an impact on the workplace, jobs, the economy and the employees themselves.

But employers may not take certain actions: no paycheck stuffers; no coercion; no rewarding or punishing employees (or threatening to do so) for their political activities or beliefs.

For more guidelines on political communications to employees, see this brochureprepared by the CalChamber. Note the distinction between internal communications (to employees, stockholders and their families) and communications to external audiences (such as non-stockholder retirees, outside vendors, customers or passersby).

CalChamber Urges Members to Register to Vote for November Elections
The California Chamber of Commerce is urging its members to register to vote for the November 6 General Election before the October 22 deadline.

An online link to register is available this CalChamber site. Voter registration information is available at the Secretary of State website.

The last day to register to vote for the November 6 election is October 22, 2012. To register to vote, you must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years of age, a resident of California, not in prison or on parole for the conviction of a felony and have not been judged by a court to be mentally incompetent to register and vote.

See the CalChamber’s positions on November ballot measures.

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Tags: time off to vote, Election Day, political communications, employees, California, HR Allen Consulting Services, Employers, HR Informant