EEOC Determines that Gay and Lesbian Employees are Protected by Title VII

In a historic decision last week the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined that discrimination based on sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The July 16, 2015 decision effectively recommends a ban on discrimination against gay and lesbian employees in the workplace.

Up until last week only a minority of states had enacted laws protecting LGBT employees from workplace discrimination. While the EEOC’s decision does not change the law, it does set forth a recommendation that will likely lead to federal court decisions holding the same, therefore in effect making it illegal to discriminate in employment decisions on the basis of sexual orientation.

Landmark Case Involved an Air Traffic Controller

In last week’s decision an air traffic controller who was gay claimed he was denied a promotion with his company because he was gay. The employee filed a charge with the EEOC, who initially declined to prosecute the case, ruling that sexual orientation claims were not within its enforcement jurisdiction. On appeal, the EEOC overturned that determination, and held “[w]e conclude that sexual orientation is inherently a ‘sex-based consideration’ and an allegation of discrimination based on sexual orientation is necessarily an allegation of sex discrimination.”

Policy Updates and Further Training are Immediately Required

Neither congress nor the courts (most importantly the United States Supreme Court) have expressly adopted the EEOC’s finding. However, it is still important to educate employees about the importance of refraining from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Although the issue remains unsettled, [the EEOC’s findings are considered persuasive to the courts (yet non-binding)], last week’s ruling certainly is a step toward outlawing sexual orientation discrimination, and therefore training programs and employee policies should be updated to reflect a prohibition on any form of illegal discrimination, including sexual orientation.

Syntrio’s Discrimination and Harassment Courses are a Cost-Effective Means of Fighting Discrimination in the Workplace

Syntrio provides cost-effective discrimination and harassment training courses to employers of all sizes. Therein you will find real-life scenarios that illustrate difficult situations that arise in the workplace. By examining the scenarios and answering questions, employees and managers are better able to identify risky situations before they arise; therefore limiting the odds that a discrimination lawsuit will occur at your company.

Syntrio is committed to helping companies of all sizes eliminated discrimination in all aspects of the employment process, and therefore provides discrimination in the workplace courses that are cognizant of the value of time to modern companies.

Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our HR compliance courses and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your organization!

 

The ADA Turns 25 Yet Disability Discrimination in the Workplace Persists

On July 20, 2015, President Obama celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”) in Washington. The historic celebration marked a quarter century of increased statutory protection for disabled employees. Although the ADA has unquestionably reduced incidents of disability discrimination, and has increased employer awareness of their obligation to accommodate disabilities in the workplace, it is far from perfect and contains many complicated facets that are difficult for employers to comply with. Simply stated, disability discrimination in the workplace still occurs, and it is something employers need to watch out for via heightened awareness and training programs.

Roto Rooter to Pay $100,000 to Settle Disability Discrimination Charge

Just a week shy of the ADA’s 25th birthday, Roto Rooter settled a disability discrimination dispute after an investigation revealed that an Iraq War Veteran was denied the ability to return to his job with reasonable accommodation. The EEOC investigation found that it was unacceptable for a military service veteran to be denied reinstatement where it was clear that there were accommodations available that could allow him to resume his job duties.

In addition to paying $100,000 to settle the case, the EEOC has required Roto Rooter to complete vigorous training focused on the ADA, reasonable requests for accommodation, and the duty to report employee requests for reasonable accommodation. All of this could have been prevented had Roto Rooter conducted disability discrimination in the workplace training up front, rather than be forced to do so as a remedial measure.

Disability Discrimination in the Workplace Training Has Multiple Benefits

The ADA requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with qualifying disabilities. Many times managers or HR professionals dismiss requests for accommodation as unreasonable without thinking about them. Consider the situation where an employee returns from back surgery and requests an ergonomic chair that must be ordered from an office supply store. Although many managers dismiss such requests and attempt to remedy the situation with an existing piece of furniture, if the chair can be acquired at a reasonable cost, failing to meet the request (or coming to a consensus accommodation) can be disability discrimination.

Syntrio Is Committed to Helping Employers Comply with the ADA

Syntrio is committed to helping companies of all sizes commit to the utmost ethical standards in all aspects of conducting their business, and therefore provides cost-effective disability discrimination in the workplace courses that are cognizant of the value of time to modern companies.  Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our HR compliance courses and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your organization!

 

The Elephant in the Workplace: What to do When Ethical Issues Arise

The day will undoubtedly come when one of your employees comes forward with an ethical complaint or you will face a dilemma as to whether report an ethical question to upper management. Thoughts of fear will rush through your brain as you consider how to handle the problem, whether dealing with a complaint or reporting an inaccuracy of your own. Without the proper background and framework for how to deal with these situations, some go unreported; worse yet, you may make statements to an employee that are actually retaliatory, and expose the company to even further liability if the employee files a lawsuit. Sound scary? It doesn't have to be.

Dealing with a Complaint

Syntrio’s ethics and code of conduct courses train managers on how to properly report and deal with complaints of ethical violations in the workplace. By instilling confidence in managers as to what constitutes an actual ethics violation, the nuances of dilemmas that will come up in the workplace become clearer, and therefore reporting potential violations becomes less of a mystery.

Remember, ethics is about doing the “right” thing. This can have multiple meanings in different situations. For example, if an employee complains that a co-worker is stealing customer data, the right decision is obvious (you investigate the situation and report the conduct immediately). However, many ethical dilemmas stem from employee complaints that are subtler.

In these situations you need to weigh the utility of reporting the potential violation with the harm it may do the company. For example, if an employee reports to you that his or her co-worker is talking to clients in a rude manner on the telephone you may investigate the situation, but if it is a minor inconvenience it is probably not worth more than having a conversation with the employee about what you have overheard and dealing with it at the micro level.

Dealing with an Ethical Dilemma

Our courses also teach management how to deal with actual ethical dilemmas that arise within the course of their duties. For example, if you determine that the company’s books are inaccurate, how do you deal with reporting the unethical conduct while handling the fear of retaliation? Although the answers are sometimes complicated, we present real-life scenarios to your managers that reduce the mystery and provide you the framework for ethical decision-making.

Getting it Right Requires Training

The aforementioned examples show common ethical dilemmas that come up in the workplace and common questions that arise with respect to reporting unethical conduct managers either hear about or discover on their own. Syntrio is committed to helping companies of all sizes commit to the utmost ethical standards in all aspects of conducting their business, and therefore provides cost-effective ethics and code of conduct training courses that are cognizant of the value of time to modern companies. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics compliance courses and remember to follow us on Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your business!

 

Changing Overtime Exemption Could Cause Big Problems for Management

The United States Department of Labor has announced a proposal to amend the white-collar overtime exemption for executive, administrative, and professional employees to increase the salary threshold necessary to qualify for the exemption. Under the proposed rule, in 2016 the salary necessary to qualify for the exemption at the federal level would be $970 per week, and not less than $50,440 per year. This is in stark contrast with the current annual requirement of $23,660.

Importantly, to qualify for the exemptions, employees must also meet the job duties tests for the executive, administrative, professional (or other limited exceptions) which are also under review, and also potentially subject to changes by the end of the year. In the mean time, we can assume that the salary threshold for meeting the exemption will go up, which could have an extreme impact on some businesses and classes of employees.

Line Managers Suddenly May Require Overtime Payments

In one of the most devastating examples of how the new regulations may impact businesses, we examine the fast food industry. Currently there are shift managers who direct other employees and perform management duties but make low annual salaries. Presently, those employees are not necessarily required to receive overtime under the present salary threshold. However, when the regulations are amended those managers likely now will be required to receive time and a half payment for hours worked in excess of 40 and businesses will have the nightmare of accounting for which hours are spent performing management versus regular work.

Regular Wage and Hour Training Necessary for Upper Management

With the rapid changes in wage and hour regulations comes the need for strategic decisions on how to compensate employees who may now be subject to overtime payments. Thankfully, we are well prepared on the changes and ready to train your upper managers on the nuances of the new regulations, and how they may impact your employees and classes of managers. By scheduling training, your company can avoid the massive pitfalls and penalties brought on by violating the federal (and state) wage and hour laws.

Syntrio’s cost-effective wage and hour training courses are designed with the decision-making management employee in mind. Therefore, the examples used within are real-life scenarios that are easy to comprehend, even when the user does not have a technical background in wage and hour law. Given the immense changes taking place in this area of the law combined with the extreme risk of class-action litigation, we feel that wage and hour training is essential to the modern business.

Syntrio is committed to reducing the number of wage and hour lawsuits filed in state and federal courts by facilitating compliance with state and federal laws and commitment to the utmost ethical standards in wage payment. Contact Syntrio for more information and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that may impact your business!