Employers Don’t Have To Accomodate Medical Marijuana Users

California’s Supreme Court has ruled that California law does not require employers to accommodate the use of illegal drugs, including medical marijuana.

What does this mean for employers?

It’s good news. If you conduct a drug test as a condition of hiring, it means that even if a job candidate states they’re using marijuana for medicinal purposes, you may refuse to hire (or even terminate an employee).

Although this law is specific to California, nine other states current allow ‘compassionate’ use of marijuana. And since California is frequently the precursor of laws in the other 49 states, it makes sense now to have a policy in place that defines what drugs are acceptable in your workplace – whether they be ‘legal’, ‘compassionate’, or not.

From Ford Harrison LLP

What Employers Can Give Employees

Study after study shows the breakdown between what employers perceive their employees want (generally pay and benefits) and what employees actually want. What’s particularly fascinating is what employees REALLY want are not budget-busters, but better management.

This article in the Christian Science Monitor identifies seven things employees want most. None of them cost a dime – but may need a strong manager to focus on providing:

1. Appreciation
2. Respect
3. Trust
4. Individual Growth
5. A Good Boss
6. Compatible Co-Workers
7. A Sense of Purpose

Time for a honest reality check: are your employees getting this from you?

Fundamentals of Creating A Team

Unless you’re a sole proprietor, the only way you can succeed is through successful teamwork. You simply can’t throw a bunch of people together – however talented they may be – and expect them to function as a dynamic team.

Maureen Moriarty, a Seattle-based executive coach, has developed these factors which impact team performance:

  • Trust.
  • Clarity in purpose, goals/objectives, roles, responsibilities and expectations.
  • The necessary skills/ resources/protection to meet objectives.
  • Healthy conflict.
  • Clear decision-making.
  • Accountability.
  • Finding ways to work better together.
  • Reward and recognize.
  • It takes hard work to ensure everyone on the team is on the same page. Take a honest look at your team – are you giving them all the skills and resources in order to achieve success?

    From Maureen Moriarty via the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

    Managing Your Manager in any Industry

    More good lessons on ‘managing up’. Although this article is related to the nursing industry, the parallels work for any industry.

    As a manager on the rise, you need to train yourself to adapt to your boss. Remember, regardless of how motivated you are, the only way to rise in corporate structure is to excel at the job you currently have.

    As a manager, these lessons are valuable in understanding what motivates your employees. A major component in successful management is to ensure your subordinates succeed – by merging their professional and personal goals with yours.

    From Sharon Bell Buchbinder, RN, PhD, via Nurse.com.

    The New ICE Crackdown on Employers

    ICE – the U.S. Department of Immigration & Customs Enforcement – is aggressively pursuing employers who hire illegal workers.

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Julie Myers announced that ICE will conduct more I-9 form audits in 2008. ICE has the authority to inspect employers’ I-9 forms, and it is planning to use this authority as another mechanism to ensure that employers are complying with immigration laws. The fines associated with I-9 form violations range from $110 to $1,100.

    ICE’s more aggressive worksite enforcement strategy targeted the “jobs magnet” that attracts illegal aliens seeking employment in the U.S. In FY07, ICE dramatically increased penalties against employers whose hiring processes violate the law, securing fines and judgments of more than $30 million while making 863 criminal arrests and 4,077 administrative arrests.

    In the past, administrative fines often proved to hold little deterrence value for violators. Many employers came to view these fines as simply the “cost of doing business.” Administrative fines were ignored, not paid in a timely matter or mitigated down over several years. ICE has dramatically increased the amounts of criminal fines and forfeiture over previous years of administrative fines alone. Administrative fines in FY 2001 totaled $1,095,734, $72,585 in FY 2002, $37,514 in FY 2003, $45,480 in FY 2004, and $6,500 in FY 2005. However, during the three quarters of FY 2007, ICE has obtained criminal fines, restitutions, and civil judgments in WSE investigations in excess of $30 million.

    In criminal cases, ICE is often pursuing charges of harboring illegal aliens, money laundering and/or knowingly hiring illegal aliens. Harboring illegal aliens is a felony with a potential 10-year prison sentence. Money laundering is a felony with a potential 20-year prison sentence. ICE has found these criminal sanctions to be a far greater deterrent to illegal employment schemes than administrative sanctions.

    Employers should continue to ensure their compliance with immigration laws by properly completing the I-9 form. In addition, employers may want to conduct a self-audit of their I-9 forms and correct any errors.

    Department of Labor Begins To Support Even Illegal Workers

    The U.S. Department of Labor is considering the expansion of a program throughout California that helps workers – regardless of immigrant status – ensure they are paid according to DOL and California labor guidelines.

    Since 2004, the program (called EMPLEO) has recovered nearly $4.35 million in compensation for workers who have been paid less than the minimum wage; not compensated for overtime; or who have not been treated fairly, according to DOL/California labor guidelines.

    Bottom line for employers: You must follow all guidelines for all employees, whether they are here legally or not.

    And if you knowingly employ illegal immigrants, the sanctions can be massive.

    Via Los Angeles Times.

    Are You A Good Boss? Or A Bad Boss?


    As the new year begins, there are a number of articles discussing whether a person is a good or bad boss.

    My experience in working for managers, being a manager, and working with managers is that the bad ones don’t know they’re bad!

    The National Federation of Independent Business came out with a self-evaluation for bosses a few years ago, and it’s time to review their (very good) questions:

    1. Have you ever berated an employee in public?

    2. Have you ever taken credit for something an employee did?

    3. Are your employees afraid of you?

    4. Are you a “no excuses allowed” type?

    5. Do you expect employees to “know” or to “do” without telling them?

    6. Do you yell or shout at employees?

    7. Have you ever tried to belittle or humiliate an employee as punishment?

    8. Do you “lean on” or make it more difficult for someone who has displeased you?

    9. Do you play favorites?

    10. Do you constantly check everyone’s work for quality?

    11. Are you reluctant to let employees make decisions?

    12. Do you expect employees to do what you ask without question?

    Answer the questions honestly – and if you said ‘yes’ to any one – it’s time for you to re-evaluate your management style.

    Discrimination and the Costs To Employers

    Even a careless remark by a supervisor or employee can create huge discrimination lawsuits.

    In one case, a woman was awarded back pay, compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages (later reduced to $200,000) because she was denied maternity leave because her supervisor said she had to be terminated because there was no way that the manager could have a pregnant woman in the office as there was a “business to run.” Those comments apparently held great sway with the court. Arismendez v. Nightingale Home Healthcare Inc.

    In another case, an employee was awarded nearly $2 million in damages for age discrimintation. The jury relied on remarks made by the President of the business, who said he wanted “race horses” not “plow horses” and told the plaintiff that he was out of the old school of selling. Moreover, the President announced at a sales meeting that he was concerned about the significant graying of the sales force.” Palasota v. Haggar Clothing Co.

    Anything you say or put in an e-mail can be held against you – and worse, anything your managers say or put in writing can be held against you as well.

    And let’s face it – the comments in both these cases are founded in sheer stupidity.

    The solution is management training. It’s estimated that 75% of all managers and supervisors – especially in smaller businesses, have no formal training in management – the ‘do’s and don’ts’.

    Don’t let an untrained supervisor endanger your business.

    Thanks to Phelps Dunbar LLP for this article.

    Keep Politics Out of the Workplace

    It’s the season, when thoughts and minds turn to politics.

    A political discussion is a wonderful thing – with friends. But it has no place in the office.

    For many, politics is intensely personal, and therefore a combustible topic potentially. Others simply don’t want to discuss their political views, but may feel pressured to do so in an office situation.

    In every instance, a discussion in the workplace that isn’t about business takes away from productivity and focus.

    Managers should take care to ensure that politics stay out of the office.

    Marshall Loeb of MarketWatch has some great pointers from the employee’s point of view.

    Employees Quit Because of a Bad Boss

    Once again, another survey finds the number one reason employees leave a company is because of a bad boss.

    The HotJobs Survey found that employees:

    • Want to quit because of a bad boss (43%)
    • Want more money (36%)
    • More growth potential (34%)

    Employers and managers get so engulfed in their day-to-day business they forget what got them there: their employees!

    Do not wait to do a performance appraisal every year. Check in with your employees frequently – don’t just say you have an ‘open door policy’ – follow through with it.

    If you’re working for a ‘bad boss’, then manage up – what can you do to make the situation better.

    It’s all about effective and frequent communication.