Sue Your Boss – 2007

The trend with employees who are mistreated by their bosses is only escalating. Most poor managers are simply in denial that they treat their employees poorly.

Now comes word that four more states (in addition to California) are considering a sue your boss law.

It’s particularly sad because behavior is something we have the ability to control.

(Thanks to Bob Rosner of ABC News’ Working Wounded blog).

The Worst Bosses In America

Although these stories are amusing, it’s a sobering reminder for all managers to apply the “Golden Rule” when leading people.

It’s easy to forget where we came from, but the effect that even our smallest comment can have on an employee can be substantial.

From Working America.

Sexual Harassment Training Does Not Invite Lawsuits

A fear of some business owners is that the teaching of sexual harassment training to employees is an invitation to encourage lawsuits.

This study, from Caren M. Goldberg at American University, disputes that notion.

In fact, she concludes, the very fact that training was provided may be the best defense in case of a lawsuit.

California mandates sexual harassment training for businesses with 50 or more employees(California AB 1825, now Government Code 12950.1) – and other states are expect to follow soon.

How To Screw Up An Employee Handbook

Many small businesses – in order to save money – often “borrow” and modify a handbook from another company, and often times that other company must comply with requirements that don’t impact a small business.

Case in point: a company who doesn’t need to offer FMLA benefits, but mention it in their handbook, may be required to offer it anyway.

(From Sedgwick, Detert Moran & Arnold LLP)

The "No-Match" Letter

From our friends at Allen Matkins

Significant Changes Announced To Employer’s Obligations Upon Receipt of No-Match Letter

The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced on August 10, 2007, its adoption of regulations identifying specific steps an employer should take as a “safe-harbor” upon receipt of a No-Match Letter from the Social Security Administration. Employers are encouraged to take immediate action and review and modify their No-Match Letter response procedures to comply with these recent changes. Failure to do so could result in a finding that the employer had “constructive knowledge” that the employee named in the No-Match Letter was an unauthorized worker, thereby exposing the employer to significant civil and criminal penalties.

A No-Match Letter is:

  • a letter to the employer from the Social Security Administration stating that the combination of name and social security account number submitted on an employee’s W-2 earnings report does not match the agency records; or
  • a letter from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency notifying the employer that the immigration-status document or employment-authorization document presented or referenced by the employee is not consistent with DHS records.

In the past, there has been uncertainty regarding how an employer should respond to a No-Match Letter. Now, employers who follow the Safe-Harbor Procedures are protected from being found to have constructive knowledge that an employee is an unauthorized worker. While employers are not required to follow the Safe-Harbor Procedures, the DHS warns that not doing so exposes the employer to the risk of being found to have constructive knowledge of unauthorized status. This carries with it considerable civil and criminal penalties.

The Safe-Harbor Procedures do not safeguard against liability where an employer has actual knowledge that an employee is an unauthorized worker.

The new regulations will take effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, which is expected shortly. Accordingly, employers should review and modify their No-Match Letter response procedures to the extent necessary to comply with these recent changes.

Re-Recruiting Your Employees

Said it before, we’ll say it again: employees consistently state they don’t get enough feedback about their performance from their bosses. This affects your retention – if an employee doesn’t feel appreciated (or doesn’t know where they stand with their boss) – they’ll leave.

MRINetwork has a list of 10 questions to ask your employees; their answers to these questions can often determine whether or not they’ll stay on their job:

  1. If you could make any changes about your job, what would they be?
  2. What things about your job do you want to stay as they are?
  3. If you could go back to any previous position and stay for an extended period of time, which one would it be and why?
  4. If you suddenly became financially independent, what would you miss most about your job?
  5. In the morning, does your job make you jump out of bed or hit the snooze button?
  6. What makes for a great day?
  7. What can we do to make your job more satisfying?
  8. What can we do to support your career goals?
  9. Do you get enough recognition?
  10. What can we do to keep you with us?

Meal & Break Provisions in California

Generally speaking, workers in California must be given a 30-minute meal break for every five hours of work, plus 10-minute rests every four hours.

The penalty for non-compliance is an hour’s pay for every day the law was violated – going back three years.

Today’s Sacramento Bee discusses the issue, and the controversy it’s creating.

Benefits of Paying Employee Tuition

NEW YORK -With the start of the school year not far off, employees of small businesses might have a hankering to take some courses. And company owners might want to think about paying for them to take some classes – the learning may help their careers and in turn, help the business retain its best workers.

Many companies are willing to pay for courses that will help employees upgrade their skills or learn new ones. Others go further, making tuition reimbursement an employee benefit that even covers courses not directly related to the job.

“For me, it’s really straightforward: We value the employees we have here,” said Kyle Corkum, president of Landquest, a land development company in Raleigh, N.C. “We’re not interested in having people come and go like a revolving door. We’re trying to upgrade the capability and knowledge of our people.”

Landquest is currently paying for a staffer to take a preparatory course for the Law School Admission Test, and it is paying undergraduate tuition for another employee. Its director of philanthropy is taking business writing and literature courses at company expense.

“We have 20 employees. If we lose one, we’re in a tough spot. Everyone we’ve got is hand-picked, and we want them to stay for the rest of their careers,” said Corkum. He added that the company will pay for law school for the staffer now studying for the LSAT.

Human resources professionals say that paying for employees’ courses is a great motivator and retention tool for all companies, so a small business that offers tuition reimbursement will make itself more competitive when it comes to attracting and keeping good workers.

Beverly Kaye, an employee retention consultant in Sherman Oaks, Calif., said research has shown that one of the top reasons why workers stay with their companies is they’re learning and growing on the job. Taking courses helps that process along.

“I’m a believer in paying for anything that in any way helps them be more effective on the job,” said Kaye, co-author of the book “Love ’em or Lose ’em: Getting Good People to Stay.”

Kaye suggests owners take the initiative and offer tuition reimbursement to staffers rather than waiting for workers to request it; employees will appreciate the goodwill behind the offer.

“It loses some of its panache if you wait for them to ask,” Kaye said.

And don’t presume to know what kind of course is right for a given staffer. Don’t assume that a graphics designer, for instance, should only be taking a computer graphics course.

“What you need is to understand what challenges and motivates each individual employee,” Kaye said.

Joyce Gioia-Herman, president of The Herman Group, a management consulting firm in Greensboro, N.C., doesn’t have employees now, but when she did in the past, all staffers, as long as they worked at least 20 hours a week, were offered tuition reimbursement.

“We wanted it to be something that would develop them, but we gave it a very wide latitude,” she said. “If somebody wanted to take a course, for instance in balancing their budget or some other real practical skill or ability they could acquire, that would help them feel better about themselves and their ability to function personally as well as professionally.”

Tuition reimbursement isn’t the only way to help employees learn; some businesses offer onsite learning.

Alfred Portale, owner of the upscale Gotham Bar & Grill in New York, has arranged for classes to be given at the restaurant, including English classes for workers who wanted to improve their language skills. Portale has also paid for individual language classes for some employees.

He also offers culinary education classes, including a wine program planned for later this year.

“I feel that people want to continue to learn in their positions,” Portale said. “It’s a very important component of the workplace _ if they feel they’re learning, they’re happy and stay on.”

–from AP Online

AB 1825 Regulations Now In Force

The Office of Administrative Law has adopted the Fair Employment and Housing Commissions regulations for AB 1825 Sexual Harassment Supervisor Training.

What is a supervisor or supervisory employee? An employee who works in California means any individual having the authority, in the interest of the employer, to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward or discipline other employees, or the responsibility to direct them, or to adjust their grievances, or effectively to recommend such action to the employer. The exercise of that authority is not of a merely routine or clerical nature but requires the use of independent judgment.

How do I determine if I have “50 or more” employees? Employees include full-time, part-time and temporary workers or contractors for each working day in any 20 consecutive weeks in the current calendar year or preceding calendar year. The 50 individuals do not need to work at the same location or within the state of California.

What if I do not provide this training to my supervisory employees? The Fair Employment and Housing Commission may issue an order that compliance with these regulations occur within 60 days of the order.

What if my supervisors were trained in 2007 before these regulations were final? An employer that has made a substantial good faith effort to comply with the sexual harassment supervisor training requirements before the effective date of the regulations will be deemed in compliance.