New Pregnancy Rules Require Accommodations

(This post was written by Allen Smith for SHRM. It has been edited for ease of understanding).

In its first major update of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance on pregnancy discrimination since 1983, the agency on July 14, 2014, added provisions explaining when the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) might require reasonable accommodations for workers with pregnancy-related disabilities or work restrictions.

Under the current guidance, Scott Fanning, an attorney with Fisher & Phillips in Chicago, said employers should be “cautious with pregnant employees. Treat them as you would anyone else.” He noted that under the guidance in terms of accommodations, pregnant employees with disabilities (which arguably might even include morning sickness or high blood pressure) have the same accommodation rights that any other individuals with disabilities would have.

Reasonable Accommodations

The guidance listed reasonable accommodations a pregnant worker with disabilities might need, such as: Continue reading

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How Unhealthy Cultures Stymie Progress

(This article, written by Rick Dacri, was originally published in the Maine Town, City & County Management Association July 2014 Newsletter)

If you want to understand what truly makes your organization tick, focus on your culture. Former IBM CEO Louis Gestner, Jr. remarked, “culture is everything.” It is the driving force in managing your city or town.

Watch the ways your employees greet one another, address residents, and even dress. Observe their work habits, how they perform their jobs, and their willingness to do more. Understand your unwritten rules, beliefs, expectations and values. All of these will provide you a snapshot of your organization’s personality and culture.

I was asked by a new Town Manager to evaluate two finalists for a community relation’s position. One was an external candidate with years of relevant experience and a positive personality; the other, a long service internal candidate with no applicable proficiency. I asked the internal why she wanted the job, a position very different from her accounting role. She indicated that for the last 10 years she had watched the incumbent do the job and thought she’s like to do the same one day. When the incumbent retired, she assumed that with her seniority, she would be entitled to the job. When I inquired about what she had done over the years to prepare herself for the job—training, courses taken, anything—she looked at me incredulously. She had done nothing, beyond putting in her time. She didn’t get the job.

In this town, an “entitlement mentality” based on seniority was ingrained into the culture. The new manager and his Board wanted and needed a workforce that was engaged, energized, resident-focused and skilled. To get there, the manager needed to move to a performance based culture, built upon education, training and above all excellence. Merit always trumps longevity. Hiring the external candidate was the first step in the process and it sent a loud message to all.

Cultural change is never easy and it is often painful. It takes hard work, time and focus. The new manager was a take-charge leader who was committed to setting a new tone and direction. With an uncompromising approach and support from his board, he knew he had to be an exemplar–modeling and promoting the “new way.”

Creating a culture focused on performance required a powerful tool to both support this initiative and to measure employee progress. We developed a performance management system trumpeting employee recognition, rewarding excellent performance, and fostering employee development. An appraisal system that deemphasized a “report card” approach, while promoting career development, would get employees’ attention and support, begin to unthaw frozen beliefs, and was likely to generate support, acceptance and new attitudes. After all, you cannot raise the level of performance in an organization that floats on a culture emphasizing entitlement over achievement.

While it may be difficult to change behaviors and attitudes once they become the norm, strong leadership can make it happen. The effectiveness of town government, in an era of high resident expectations on bare bones budgets, rests on the shoulders of its leadership and workforce. Understanding your culture is critical. Changing it, if it not consistent with your strategic direction, is paramount.

Getting the best out of your people, nurturing their growth, in an environment based on performance, can be transformative. Promoting this can-do attitude, encouraging an acceptance of change, instills strong peer pressure for the new norms while enlisting the employees’ enthusiasm and dedicated efforts to achieving the town’s objectives.

Step back and critically look at your city or town. If you’re happy with what you see, build on it. If you find yourself falling short of your expectations, do what it takes to change. Your residents, board and yes, your employees will thank you.

If you would like to learn more about transforming your organization’s culture, contact Rick Dacri.

 

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Paying CEOs Like Rock Stars

(This article was written by Rick Dacri and was originally published in the York County Coast Star on June 26, 2014)

payCEO pay is out of control…isn’t it? The Wall Street Journal published their 2013 Annual CEO Compensation Survey of the 300 largest U.S. publically traded companies and found that CEO pay rose “moderately.” That sounds good. CEO pay increased by only 5.5%, while ordinary employees’ pay rose 1.3%, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Regular folks pay was less than “moderate,” I guess.

So how much do CEO’s make? The big money maker was Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison who earned $76.9 million, followed by Leslie Moonves of CBS at $65.4 million. The Journal noted that several CEOs, whose companies were not listed because they were not big enough to make the list, earned much more. Cheniere Energy CEO Charif Souki was paid $141.6 million on sales of $267 million. In other words, he was paid more than half of what the company brought in. That doesn’t seem fair.

What about here in Maine? As you might expect, CEO pay lags behind the rest of the nation. But please, don’t feel bad. The top pay went to WEX CEO who earned a little over $4.7 million followed by Idexx Lab’s CEO at nearly $4 million.

When you figure that the median pay for a full-time worker earned in the first quarter of 2014 was $796 a week or $41,392, you can understand why some might find these CEO’s salaries a tad high. The Journal noted that the pay of these executives didn’t necessarily correlate to the results of their company. In other words, performance wasn’t a factor in their pay. As one anonymous online commentator noted, “It is impossible in this current economic climate to achieve results that could remotely justify these salaries.”

So what’s reasonable? Continue reading

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Minimum Wage: Massachusetts Ups Rate

Post by Rick Dacri, June 28, 2014

Massachusetts Governor Patrick signed legislation increasing the states minimum wage.  The state’s minimum wage is currently at $8.00 per hour and will increase to $9.00 per hour as of January 1, 2015; $10.00 per hour, effective January 1, 2016; and $11.00 per hour as of January 1, 2017.  Wages for tipped employees will also be phased in over time, increasing from $2.63 per hour currently to $3.00 per hour on January 1, 2015; $3.35 per hour on January 1, 2016; and $3.75 per hour on January 1, 2017.

You should begin the process of reviewing your wage structure in order assess any potential impact on your organization.

If you need assistance, give me a call.

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Maine Mandates Sexual Harassment Training

hammer1(Post by Rick Dacri, June 16, 2014)

Maine is one of three states nationally that mandates sexual harassment training for all their employees (California and Connecticut are the other two). Many other states, like Massachusetts, strongly encourage it.

Under Maine law, employers with at least 15 employees must conduct training for all its new employees within one year of their start date. Additional training for supervisors and managers is required within one year of becoming a supervisor or manager.

Training for all employees must include:

  1. notice that sexual harassment is illegal
  2. a definition of sexual harassment
  3. a description of sexual harassment utilizing examples
  4. a description of any internal compliant process available
  5. a description of the Maine Human Rights Commission complaint process
  6. a statement that any complainant will be protected against retaliation

Supervisory training must include everything that is included in the employee training plus clarification of the supervisor’s responsibilities and methods for prevention and correcting sexual harassment.

While Maine only requires that initial training, I have found that those organizations that regularly (usually annually) train and educate their managers and employees rarely have harassment claims and enjoy a respectful and productive workforce.

Call me if you would like to learn more about training and your responsibilities under the law and if you would like to schedule training for your company. For a description of my online supervisory training program, click Training.

Incidentally, the Maine Human Rights Commission has included Rick Dacri on their “Sexual Harassment Trainers Referral List.”

Other posts you may want to read:

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Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Webinar

workplaceharassment-225Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Webinar

For Managers and Supervisors

July 9 at 9AM

 

Claims of sexual harassment continue to be in the news on nearly a daily basis. A sexual harassment problem can disrupt your organization, scar lives, ruin reputations, and send employee morale plummeting and lawyer fees soaring.

For the past 20 years, I have trained hundreds of managers and supervisors in harassment prevention…always at a company setting. While I will continue to do this, many managers would like to like this same program offered online, for all of their managers and supervisors to hear. To meet that need I am introducing:

 Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Webinar

For Managers and Supervisors

July 9 at 9AM

This 60-minute webinar-based sexual harassment prevention program is designed to teach managers and supervisors to recognize behaviors and situations that could lead to claims of harassment. They will learn their legal responsibilities, how to respond to workplace situations, and most importantly, how to create an environment where harassment does not exist.

The value of this program to you will be that your managers will know:

  • How to eliminate harassment claims;
  • How to handle to any potential claims;
  • How to prevent claims of retaliation;
  • How to assist any victims of harassment;
  • How to conduct an investigation; and
  • How to implement an effective prevention program.

By training your management and supervisory staff, you will demonstrate your commitment to a harassment free workplace—a critical piece in defending your organization against any potential harassment claim. And many states, like Maine and Connecticut, mandate sexual harassment training while others, such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island, “strongly encourage it.”

The cost of the program is $200 for an individual and $400 for a company with unlimited participants. To enroll, simply give me a call at 207-967-0837 or send me an email at rick@dacri.com. It’s that simple. Once enrolled, I’ll send you your webinar log-in information.

Added bonus:

I will also provide you a model Sexual Harassment Policy that meets all state and federal requirements and a copy of the training program slides.

I hope you’ll register now. Again, send me an email to rick@dacri.com or call me direct at 207-967-0837.

 P.S. Still have questions? Just send me an email or give me a call (my direct line: 207-967-0837), and I’ll be happy to address and questions or concerns you may have.

P.P.S Hurry, as this program will fill fast. And, if you prefer to offer our onsite training at your facility, give me a call and we can schedule it.

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Cultural Issues Makes Employee Uncomfortable

imagesThis question came in from one of Dacri’s HR HelpLine clients.

Question: I have a male international worker who has made one of my female non-international worker uncomfortable with some of the comments he has made to her. I am going to address this with him, but I want to make sure I handle this correctly. Some of the comments were how she needs to learn to cook for her husband and the like. She said he also has an attitude that she can’t handle some of the tasks because she is female. I know the Jamaican culture is quite different from here, so I want to let him know that he is making her uncomfortable without discounting what he believes to be true…Any insight you can provide, will be most helpful.

Expert Advice: While it is important to be sensitive to different cultures and an individuals personal beliefs, that does not give anyone license to espouse their beliefs to all. I would pull him aside, let him know that you have something to discuss with him that may make him uncomfortable, but his comments (walk him through them) are making some people uncomfortable. Let him know that this kind of language is unacceptable in the workplace and you expect it to stop immediately. At this point, stop talking and wait for his response. Assuming it goes well (it should), tell him you hope this is the end of it. Then, document your discussion. Let the female employee know you’ve talked to him and let her know if it happens again to let you know immediately. If it does happen again, I recommend a formal written warning, but let’s further discuss at that point.

It is important to be sensitive to cultural issues, but in this case, his comments are making your other employee very uncomfortable. After you address this, follow-up with the female employee in a few days to be sure everything is OK.

If you would like to learn more about Dacri’s HR HelpLine service, where you can get all your workforce questions answered, click HR HelpLine.

Other posts you may want to read:

  1. HR HelpLine: When You Need Expert Advice
  2. Body Odor: It’s a Problem Supervisors Must address
  3. Medical Marijuana: Hospitality Issues

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Filed under Employee Relations, How to, Management