Author Archives: Rick Dacri

About Rick Dacri

Rick Dacri is one of those rare individuals who can take difficult employee issues, sort through their complexities, and find solutions for employers that make sense. Dacri brings more than 25 years of experience in senior management, organizational development, and human resources, all in one package. He has consulted to a wide variety of industries, large and small, always brings to the table a practical approach, sound advice, and a sense of humor. Dacri is the president and founder of Dacri & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in helping business owners and managers improve the performance and productivity of their organization and workforce. Much of Rick’s success can be attributed to his ability to work with managers to get to the heart of their problems and provide them practical solutions with simple, straightforward steps for implementation. Rick is a recognized national speaker, speaking at conferences on leadership, organizational change and human resources. He is a prolific writer, authoring the book Uncomplicating Management and over 100 articles for a number of business publications. He is also a regular contributor to several industry associations’ journals and newsletters. He has been an adjunct professor at Clark University, Assumption College and Fitchburg State College, where he has taught courses in management, organizational behavior, and human resource management. Rick serves on a number of boards and has served as President of the Human Resource Association of Southern Maine, as the Massachusetts State Director for the Society for Human Resource Management as well as the President of the Human Resource Association of Central Massachusetts. Rick holds a MBA from Clark University and a Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude from Assumption College. He lives on the coast of Maine where the sites, sounds and smells of the ocean give him inspiration and strength.

LinkedIn Gets Burned with Overtime Violations

UnknownPosted by Rick Dacri, August 26, 2014

Wage and hour violations are easy to commit, tough to mitigate, and can cost you a bundle. Ask LinkedIn. The Department of Labor has ordered them to pay nearly $6 Million in overtime-back wages and liquidated damages to 359 former and current nonexempt employees. The violation? Not having the right tools in place for some employees and their managers to properly track their hours. In other words, they probably didn’t record the hours the employees worked and didn’t pay them overtime for any hours worked over 40. Simple stuff, but areas where supervisors frequently get sloppy, employees get angry for not getting paid and companies get burned.

As part of the settlement, LinkedIn also agreed to do the following:

  1. Provide compliance training and distribute its policy prohibiting off the clock work to all nonexempt employees and their managers;
  2. Meet with the managers of the current affected employees to remind them that overtime work must be recorded and paid; and
  3. Remind employees of LinkedIn’s policy prohibiting retaliation against any employee who raises concerns about workplace issues.

My advice: I strongly recommend that you review your current pay practices, not just your policy. Talk to your supervisors and managers to make sure they are fully complying with the law. Sometimes, supervisors, in an effort to comply with no overtime policies and to stay within their budgets, improperly enforce the policy and commit infractions.

The Department of Labor is vigilant in monitoring and enforcing wage and hour violations. Their penalties are steep. Call me if you need assistance in ensuring you’re fully complaint.

Other similar posts by Rick Dacri that you may find helpful:

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How The Civil Rights Act Changed the Modern Workplace

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President Johnson gives Martin Luther King, Jr. the pen he used to sign the Civil Rights Act

This article was written by Rick Dacri and was originally published in the York County Coast Star on July 31, 2014

I’m old enough to remember the segregated South; the race riots of the 60’s; when jobs were divided between jobs for men and jobs for women; when schoolteachers were asked to resign because they became pregnant; and when older workers were forced to retire. These practices have ended, for the most part, because of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an act designed to end segregation; an act that also changed the American workplace. As we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of its passage; it is helpful to look back to understand where we came from, to appreciate the progress we have made, and to recognize that work that stills needs to be done.

A little history: While discrimination has been an ugly reality of American life for much of our history, acceptance of this intolerance hit a crescendo in the 1950’s and ‘60s. The Supreme Court’s banning of school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education; Rosa Park’s brave refusal to give up her seat on a public bus; and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march for racial equality became catalysts for change that ultimately resulted in the passage of the Civil Rights Act. That single piece of legislation, which barred discrimination based on race, color, creed, sex and national origin, advanced equality and changed America and its workplaces forever. While discrimination in some forms still exists today, the walls of intolerance began to crumble by the force of that law. Since its enactment, Congress has passed subsequent laws barring discrimination based on veteran’s status, disability, pregnancy and genetics. On the state level, protections are now afforded to individuals based on their sexual orientation.

Today it is hard to imagine a workplace where discrimination was allowed. But it wasn’t long ago when employment was denied because of color or gender; where women were relegated to low paying jobs, rarely being considered for promotion (those depictions of women in the TV series “Mad Men” are real); and when individuals with a disability were rarely considered for employment.

Today we have workplaces that embrace and even celebrate diversity; where women enjoy opportunities once prohibited; and where male only and female only jobs are simply just jobs. Fifty years after the Act’s passage, we have seen both legal changes and cultural changes in how we treat people in the workplace. Overt, blatant discrimination is no longer tolerated. And while that’s a good thing, we still see and experience signs of it. How many times have you heard, or maybe said or thought the following:

  • He’s too old to do that
  • Can’t hire her, she’s likely to get pregnant
  • Got to pay him more than her, he’s raising a family
  • Don’t think they’ll fit in with the rest of us
  • She just got back from the Afghanistan, not sure she’ll be stable
  • She’s slowing down, when is she retiring
  • They need to speak English
  • They’re taking the job of “real” Americans

Subtle, attitudinal forms of discrimination still abound, preventing real equality and unfairly holding people back. Promotion and pay are new battlegrounds. The glass ceiling prevents many women from achieving comparable pay and entrance to the boardroom. Baby Boomers, who are opting to remain in the workplace rather than taking expected retirements, are causing tensions with younger decision makers. The memories of 9-11 dredge up intolerance for certain people, religions and beliefs. And the issue of immigration is highlighting differences and resurrecting prejudices and intolerance.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 set off a wave of change unanticipated by its signers. Our workplace has changed for the better. But much more needs to be done. Employers must be diligent. Managers and supervisors need to understand the law and the importance of creating a positive work culture. Policies should be reviewed to ensure they both meet the law’s requirements, but that they promote an inclusive, diverse workplace.

In fifty years we have come to realize that the single passage of this law both barred discrimination, but it also made our workplace better. Studies consistently show that fostering a diverse workplace with different people, genders, backgrounds and ideas results in a more productive, innovative, creative workforce and profitable organizations. That’s good for our businesses; that’s good for our workers; and that’s good for our country.

If this post was of interest, you may want to read:

  1. Discrimination Claims: 7 Ways to Effectively Protect Your Company
  2. Abercrombie & Fitch Accused of Discrimination
  3. EEOC Reports Nearly 100,000 Job Discrimination Charges

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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.”

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