‘Oliver the Ornament’: A Christmas Tale With Workplace Parallels

In our house we practice the “Four Gifts of Christmas Rule” - each person receives one gift they want, one gift they need, one gift they wear and one gift they read.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any suggestions for the first three gifts on the list. But I do have a great recommendation for the gift you read, and it also ties in nicely with the difficult task we have as parents trying to explain to our children what we do at work every day.

Earlier today, the US President’s wife, First Lady Melania Trump visited Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC for the time-honored tradition of reading to the patients. This year’s book was Todd M. Zimmerman’s Oliver the Ornament, a heartwarming story about a group of ornaments preparing for the Christmas season.

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering how a children’s Christmas book can draw parallels to the adult workplace but, as the story unfolds, it is easy to see the juxtaposition of what employees in workplaces experience every day:

  • Oliver is simply one of a larger group of ornaments.
    • One employee within a larger organization.
  • Oliver has always been a prized ornament; however, this year he has a broken arm, so he is not sure if he will get put up on the tree.
    • Will diversity or discrimination stop the employee from getting the promotion or receiving recognition?
  • Edsel, a fire truck ornament, bullies Oliver and encourages other ornaments to do the same. 
    • A clear example of workplace bullying and discrimination.
  • Edsel even plots to have Oliver hidden away so he won’t be put on the Christmas tree.
    • An obvious instance of office politics.

I’m not going to spoil the ending for you, but rest assured that I would not have suggested the story if it wasn’t a happy one.

Oliver the Ornament a great springboard for discussions with your children about bullying. You can use it to explain to them that when you go to work every day, you try to serve as the advocate for the ‘Olivers’ where you work to ensure that every employee has a safe place to turn when confronted with an ‘Edsel’ at your office.

Also, it might not hurt to keep a copy of Oliver the Ornament handy on your desk for a little light reading for your team should an ‘Edsel’ rears his or her head.

For more information about Oliver the Ornament, visit www.olivertheornament.com.

New California Sexual Harassment Training Law Approved by Governor Brown

On October 1, 2018 California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 1343, which amends the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) to require non-managerial employees to receive bi-annual training on the prevention of sexual harassment, gender identity issues and the prevention of abusive conduct in the workplace by January 1, 2020 (or within six months of assuming their position).

On October 1, 2018 California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB 1343 

Although this sweeping change is sure to be burdensome for employers, organizations can rest somewhat easier on the grounds that the required training for non-managerial employees will only be one hour in duration (as opposed to the two hour requirement currently in place). Please take note that managers and supervisors will still be required to receive bi-annual sexual harassment training as has been the case in the past.

The new requirement is part of a series of sweeping changes to California’s FEHA 

The new requirement is part of a series of sweeping changes to California’s FEHA, that are in accord with changes that went into effect in New York and other states. The new training requirements are just one component of those laws.

In response to these changes Syntrio is well prepared to offer your employees both industry-leading sexual harassment training for California managers and a one-hour course that covers the needs of non-managerial employees. In the coming months we will be rolling out a completely refreshed California non-manager course that will truly set the standard for interactive online training in this industry.

Contact Syntrio to schedule a demonstration of our California courseware.

Syntrio invites you to contact us to schedule a demonstration of our California (and other state) courseware with one of our representatives at your earliest convenience. It is never too early to get a head start on fulfilling your requirement for California training, especially given the California legislature’s comment that those employees who receive training by January 1, 2019 will not have to re-train when at the January 2020 deadline!

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.


California Sexual Harassment Training Requirements May Soon Broaden

Always a leader in employee-friendly legislation, California could not be undone by the recent New York City and New York State training requirements aimed at preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. Indeed, on May 30, 2018, the California State Senate passed SB 1343, which seeks to broaden sexual harassment training requirements already in place under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). already in place under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).

California may soon require ALL employees to receive training 

Should SB 1343 be signed into law (and there is no indication it will not sometime this summer) California would require all employees in workplaces larger than 5 employees to receive bi-annual two-hour training on sexual harassment prevention, abusive conduct in the workplace, and bystander intervention by 2020. The current requirement is limited to supervisory employees in workplaces employing 50 or more employees. Such a move would obviously be significant, as it would create an onerous requirement on employers to scramble for new training and force existing providers to adjust their programs to fit the new needs of an exponential number of new small businesses were the bill to pass.

As always, Syntrio remains ahead of the curve on these matters, and is already well into development on revised versions of our AB1825 courseware and a new, non-managerial employee version of the course. Although we recommend providing all employees training as a matter of company policy, obviously the California legislature’s attempt to take matters into its own hands is forcing the issue.

Stay tuned to Syntrio’s blog for further updates on this developing story. 

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.


 

Minnesota State Legislature Aims to Make Sweeping Changes to Sexual Harassment Laws

The wave of sexual harassment and #MeToo legislation does not appear to be cresting anytime soon, as Minnesota is the latest state with employers in its crosshairs. After months of debate, the Minnesota state legislature seeks to enact a series of laws that would make sweeping changes to the State’s sexual harassment laws. Despite their best intentions, you should keep in mind that when these sorts of changes occur they are never good for the employer.

Minnesota Seeks to Eliminate “Severe and Pervasive” Standard

The first proposed change to Minnesota’s sexual harassment law is an elimination of the decades-old “severe and pervasive” standard for evaluating misconduct that is arguably harassing. Under the current standard, in order to be sexual harassment, conduct must be “unwelcome or unwanted, offensive to a reasonable person, and severe and/or pervasive in nature.” This means that simple jokes and offensive comments that are one off do not generally constitute workplace harassment. Were Minnesota to get its way this year, every comment or incident of inappropriate behavior could be grounds for a harassment claim.

Important to note, the proposed legislative change has been met with severe opposition from the business community and local governments, which [correctly] claim changing the law will lead to a wave of litigation and unnecessary financial burden. With any luck, the legislature will see the danger in adding this new language to Minnesota’s already stringent statutory prohibition on sexual harassment and will keep the status quo to help employers avoid a new wave of litigation.

Non-Disclosure Language in Sexual Harassment Suits in Jeopardy

Another important proposed change seeks to eliminate non-disclosure language in sexual harassment settlement agreements. This proposed change tracks similar legislation in New York and California and is aimed at making incidents more high-profile and public. The current majority of sexual harassment settlement agreements include confidentiality language prohibiting both parties from disparaging one another in the event the parties reach a settlement on a claim of sexual harassment. This is standard language that keep the matter private and avoids big press on incidents. Should the proposed change pass, employers would no longer be able to bargain for non-disclosure. This sort of language will likely cause settlement figures to drop and more cases to go to trial, as employers will be less likely to provide compensation knowing they will likely be all over the news and deemed “guilty” without even going to trial.

We strongly recommend consulting with our representatives to learn more about the training resources Syntrio offers to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Syntrio’s subject matter experts are well in tune with changes to the law, and can help you and your company craft a plan of prevention that suits your business needs, no matter its size. We invite you to contact us today at 888-289-6670 or by filling out the online form available here.

Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content.


Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.

What’s Not in Your Social Media Policy—But Really Should Be

Social media platforms can be an invaluable tool to build a brand and drive business. But without a clear policy in place, your company risks at best embarrassment and at worst legal action against it should an employee engage in illegal activity.

Management and human resource professionals may not be aware of everything that should be covered by a social media policy, given how fast things are moving. While new platforms are being created all the time and are constantly morphing, there are a few evergreen guidelines you should be emphasizing in your social media policy.

Evergreen Guidelines:

Remind employees about the line between personal and professional.
The majority of the workforce has grown up with social media of one kind or another, and has used it for just that: social purposes. Whether they like it or not, however, their personal public posts can have an impact on their careers, particularly if they list your company name in a personal profile. Employees must remember they are brand ambassadors in any public context and behave with professionalism.

If it’s confidential, it doesn’t belong online.
It should go without saying that any proprietary information needs to remain internal, but you can’t depend on common sense to rule the day. Be explicit in your policy, and you can avoid losing business because of employee indiscretion online. Likewise, a company should encourage employee complaints or conflicts to be properly addressed away from an online audience that includes customers, partners or competitors.

Training is key.
In addition to a clear policy, employees should understand the terms of use for all the social media platforms in which they are engaging. If one of your employees violates the site’s terms of use, conditions and/or limitations, this violation affects not only the employee but may limit your company’s ability to use the site in the future. Profanity, cyber bullying and posting any offensive material all fall into this category.

Syntrio’s Social Media Ethics course provides employees at all levels an overview of social media, guidelines on using time and resources wisely, and concrete examples of conflicts of interest and offensive posts. It’s a great way to efficiently start a conversation about an increasingly important aspect of ethical behavior in the workplace.


Syntrio is a leader in the human resources and employment law fields (as well as ethics and compliance) and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of harassment, discrimination and other employment law issues your organization may face. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards employment law training program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content
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Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our discrimination, harassment, and prevention of retaliation online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on corporate compliance that impact your company.