Job Bias Charges Approach Record High In Fiscal Year 2009

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has announced that 93,277 workplace discrimination charges were filed with the federal agency nationwide during Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, the second highest level ever, and monetary relief obtained for victims totaled over $376 million. The comprehensive enforcement and litigation statistics for FY 2009, which ended Sept. 30, 2009, are posted on the agency’s web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/statistics/enforcement/index.cfm.
 
Discrimination based on disability, religion and/or national origin hit record highs. The number of charges alleging age-based discrimination reached the second-highest level ever. Continuing a decade-long trend, the most frequently filed charges with the EEOC in FY 2009 were charges alleging discrimination based on race (36%), retaliation (36%), and sex-based discrimination (30%). Multiple types of discrimination may be alleged in a single charge filing.
 
The near-historic level of total discrimination charge filings may be due to multiple factors, including greater accessibility of the EEOC to the public, economic conditions, increased diversity and demographic shifts in the labor force, employees’ greater awareness of their rights under the law, and changes to the agency’s intake practices that cut down on the steps needed for an individual to file a charge.

Social Media and the Workplace

I will be writing extensively in the upcoming weeks about Social Media and the Workplace.  Actually, not so much about social media (there are experts in that area all over the place), but the impact it has on employers and businesses.

So let’s start off with an excellent article written by Maria Greco Danaher of Ogletree Deakins on the potential liability employers have when an employee uses social media.  Here’s an important excerpt:

“…an employee who uses electronic media, including e-mail, blogs, or social networking sites, to make comments about a product made by his or her employer, and who fails to disclose his or her relationship with that manufacturer may create legal liability under the FTC guidelines.  Further, should a consumers rely on a particular comment in that posting to his or her detriment, any ensuing damage could be attributed to the manufacturer/company.”

It’s pretty apparent that social media has a place in the workplace.  Most experts (including me) agree that it’s not practical to ban social media in the workplace.  So what do you do?

More to come…

California Alternative Workweek Schedules

One of the best ways of improving morale without costs is to consider Alternative Workweek schedules.  Up until January 1, it has been most difficult to implement.  However, California law regarding alternative workweek schedules have been eased somewhat as a result of AB 5.

Alternative workweek schedules allow non-exempt employees in a “work unit” to work in excess of 8 hours per day without incurring overtime. (California law includes a daily overtime requirement.) Generally, an employer may propose AWS work schedules of up to ten hours per day (12 for healthcare workers). Hours in excess of 10 per day, or 40 per week are overtime. Typically employers propose schedules consisting of four ten hour days or a “9/80” schedule. Special procedures describe advance disclosure and a secret ballot election prior to implementation of the AWS.

The AWS can apply to a “work unit” within a company, rather than to all employees. Previously, the Labor Code did not define “work unit,” although state regulations included a definition. The new law defines a work unit as “a division, a department, a job classification, a shift, a separate physical location, or a recognized subdivision thereof.” The amendment also clarifies that even a single employee may qualify as a work unit as long as his job function meets the definition.

In setting up an AWS, an employer may propose a single work schedule, or it may propose a menu of work schedule options for workers to select. Can the “menu” include a traditional 5 day week for those employees who do not want to work longer days? The amended law clarifies that the menu options may indeed include a regular schedule of five eight-hour days in a workweek. Consequently, employees who do not wish to work an AWS schedule may still vote in favor of the AWS by choosing to work the regular 8 hour day. This change greatly increases the odds of achieving the 2/3 employee supporting vote need to implement an AWS.

Additionally, the new law specifies how often employees may move from one schedule option to another on the menu. For example, if an employee opts to work four 10 hour days, how frequently can he opt to go back to regular 8 hour days? As amended, Labor Code § 511 allows employees to move from one schedule option to another on a weekly basis.