Employers Beware: New EEOC Flyer Targets Younger Employees

On July 22, 2016, the EEOC released a one-page information sheet that explains how religious discrimination impacts employee job rights. The flyer explains that it is illegal for employers to treat their employees differently or harass them based on religious practices or beliefs. Sounds informative, until you dig a bit deeper into the sheet and learn a bit about the historical context at work here.

In the past 20 years the number of religious discrimination charges filed with the EEOC has more than doubled, from 1,709 in 1997 to 3,502 in 2015, but those numbers do not tell the whole story, as there are a number of factors at work leading to that increase. When we examine the picture within the picture, the number of charges spiked dramatically in fiscal 2008-2013, going from 2,880 charges in 2007 to 3,273 in 2008 all the way to 4,151 in 2011 before gradually declining from 2012-2015. Not surprisingly, the spike in charges in the years following the Great Recession coincides with an extreme risk of layoff for EEOC investigatory agents. 

While the EEOC is charged with investigating and conciliating charges of discrimination in the United States, they are anything but a friend of employers, and have long been known to seek “target rich” sectors within the workforce. With 2016 being an election year, the new flier unabashedly seeks younger employees as Plaintiffs to keep the agents employed in a new administration. The flier is not ironic in its attempt to target younger workers, as shown in the paragraphs below.

First, the flyer itself is entitled “Youthwork,” and the title is spelled out in a kitschy “Comic Sans” font. Next, the three examples of employees subject to alleged discrimination are a) a barista on summer break; b) an “after school” grocery store cashier; and c) a student working in a clothing store. The examples themselves involve situations that are likely to come up among younger employees, and further channel activism and millennial angst and hostility towards authority. In any event, the flier unfairly singles out millennials as somehow more likely to be victims of religious discrimination when they are, if anything, more likely to be the targets of a form of [legal] age discrimination

Employers need to be aware of the EEOC’s campaign seeking younger employees as complainants of race discrimination. In order to combat this effort it is more critical than ever to include younger employees in compliance efforts to show them that your company is committed to a diverse and inclusive workforce, and that religious discrimination of any form absolutely will not be tolerated under any circumstances. This way, if and when the EEOC comes knocking on your company’s door your employees will let them know that they work in an environment of tolerance, and where a culture of compliance is fostered.

Syntrio’s Compliance Continuum is an innovative means of getting your corporate message of compliance across. We believe that the best way to connect with employees of all ages, whose attention spans are getting shorter is to keep them engaged and ensure the message gets across. We offer a vast array of short-form videos preparing the user for our entertaining, engaging and interactive training courses and keep the content fresh and custom to the needs of your business. With the EEOC seeking a new batch of Plaintiffs during a tumultuous period in American History, now is the time to keep your users informed and aware that religious discrimination will not be tolerated at your company.

Syntrio is committed to helping businesses avoid costly incidents associated with employment discrimination. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our Preventing Religious Discrimination online courses for employees and management and remember to follow us on Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on compliance that impact your company

Study Unveils the Principles of a High Quality Compliance Program: Part II 

Last week we discussed how online ethics and compliance training can help foster the key principles of a quality compliance program in your organization. By way of review, we explained how a commitment to online training programs: 1) evidences ethics and compliance as a central focus of your business strategy; 2) allows your organization to assess, own, identify, and mitigate risk; and 3) assists your leaders with building and sustaining a culture of integrity in the workplace. Those forward-thinking aspects absolutely help your organization instill a culture of ethics and compliance.

This week’s sequel discusses the value of online training programs when an ethics or compliance issue has already arisen, and how your managers and employees will be better prepared to deal with those issues having taken the online training courses available to them from Syntrio. Without further ado, we present to you the fourth and fifth principles of a quality compliance program:

  1. High-quality Compliance Programs Value and Protect the Reporting Concerns and Suspected Wrongdoing

It is one thing to say that you have an “open-door policy” or that all complaints will be investigated, it is quite another for employees to be truly informed and educated about the corporate philosophy of handling complaints. Syntrio’s anti-retaliation, anti-harassment, anti-discrimination, and other courses all have detailed sections on the importance of reporting suspected violations, and the proper way for managers to handle and deal with complaints.

All too often companies “check-the-box” with a policy or practice of non-retaliation or “whistleblower” provisions, yet when the time comes a manager or supervisor is ill-equipped to actually handle the complaint. These managers frequently silence the complaining employee or question whether his or her behavior had something to do with the alleged misconduct. When managers and employees alike have had detailed training on the company’s philosophy of handling complaints and suspected misconduct in a legally and ethically compliant manner the key tenet of valuing complaints can be achieved.

  1. Top-notch Compliance Requires Accountability when Wrongdoing Occurs

Admitting mistakes can be difficult. All too often executives and managers think about dollars and cents when there is a suspicion of misconduct. This may mean avoiding a lawsuit at any cost, even resorting to retaliation to “quell the rebellion” so to speak. However, in order to truly prepare your organization for full accountability it is important that your employees and managers know the ins and outs of handling ethics and compliance issues in the workplace. By preparing your company with online training courses from Syntrio, your workforce will be ready to do just that.

We again remind you that Syntrio is committed to helping businesses avoid costly incidents associated with ethics and compliance missteps. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our vast library of online training courses for employees and management and remember to follow us on Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on compliance that impact your company!

 

Study Unveils the Principles of a High Quality Compliance Program: Part I

A new study conducted by the non-profit Ethics and Compliance Initiative has revealed striking detail about the common tenets of quality corporate compliance programs. It is no secret that ethics and compliance plays a vital role in maintaining the success and sustainability of any company or organization. Although at present there are a wide variety of methods of achieving broad-based compliance in the workplace, studies such as the one conducted by ECI’s blue-ribbon panel are revealing that nearly all organizations have the same goals.

Unquestionably, the most effective way to meet compliance goals is to make available online training to the workforce that provides the education necessary carry out your ideals. This two-part article will illustrate the key principles of a quality compliance program (as identified by ECI’s panel) and how Syntrio’s online training is suited to meet those principles.

  1. Ethics and Compliance is Central to Business Strategy

All top executives understand that in today’s day and age they need to keep compliance at the forefront of the business model. To that end, there is simply no greater way to keep this ideal visible than to subscribe to a host of online training programs specifically aimed at instilling the ideals of ethics and compliance into your corporate routine.

  1. Ethics and Compliance Risks are Owned, Identified, Managed, and Mitigated

Hiding the proverbial corporate head in the sand simply is not going to cut it. Companies of all sizes are going to face ethics and compliance issues and risks. Those companies who choose to be proactive, and train their employees on how to identify the issues, own up to them, and mitigate the damages stemming from present issues are those who will be able to deal with the inevitable. For this reason, it is important that companies do more than just “check the box” by providing a catch-all training program. Indeed, Syntrio’s vast library of specific topics will have your employees prepared to deal with nearly any issue that may arise.

  1. Leaders at all Levels Build and Sustain a Culture of Integrity

True leaders are visionaries. They see the world two moves in advance. With that vision comes an eye towards teaching; however, the greatest teachers cannot teach without the proper tools. This is why Syntrio has created a vast library of online ethics and compliance courses that are the tools of the leadership trade. By providing employees with the opportunity to come to a mentor after taking the short training programs, your company leadership will be empowered to instill the vision and corporate ideals as you see fit while discussing the corporate ethos with a far more educated workforce.

Next week we will address the remaining key principles of a quality ethics and compliance program. We remind you that Syntrio is committed to helping businesses avoid costly incidents associated with ethics and compliance missteps. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our vast library of online training courses for employees and management and remember to follow us on Twitter, Google Plus, and LinkedIn for daily updates on compliance that impact your company!

 

Large Corporation to Pay $4M to Settle Race Discrimination Lawsuit

More than fifty-two years ago Martin Luther King Jr. made his famous “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963.  During the week of Dr. King’s birthday we are reminded that race discrimination in employment and society is extremely prevalent. Demonstrating the unfortunate perseverance of this practice is the fact that Hillshire Brands Company (formerly known as Sara Lee Corporation) has agreed to pay $4 million to settle a race discrimination lawsuit stemming from an incident involving 74 African-American employees at its Paris, Texas facility.

The lawsuit, which was prosecuted by the EEOC, alleged that African-American employees at Hillshire Brands were subjected to racist images and graffiti in the facility restrooms and locker room. Additionally, the lawsuit alleged that bakery employees were subjected to racial slurs by supervisors and other white employees over numerous complaints that were ignored by management. In addition to paying the $4 million sum, Hillshire Brands has been ordered to implement a variety of training courses and preventative actions to help ensure that race discrimination does not occur at the Paris facility again.

Conducting Race Discrimination Training
Helps Prevent Ugly Incidents

The EEOC and other fair employment practices agencies frequently order training and preventative measures punitively as part of settlement proceedings. While “better late than never” certainly helps address the issue and makes a statement, all too often the incidents that lead to high profile settlements could have been avoided by conducting training courses on employment discrimination in a proactive fashion.

In the Hillshire Brands case it was clear that the company did not have the proper procedures in place for training managers on identification of race discrimination nor did it have the proper measures in place to address complaints of racism and discrimination on its premises. In addition to being hit with a large settlement and the negative publicity that is associated with involvement in an ugly race discrimination lawsuit, many of the employees working at the facility surely were shocked to learn that they were employed at a place where racist graffiti would be allowed to remain without immediate remedy, which makes for an uncomfortable work environment.

Syntrio’s employment discrimination and harassment courses use real life scenarios and calculated hypotheticals to teach the dangers of allowing harassment and discrimination to persist at your company. By discussing real cases and developing vignettes based on reality your managers will not only learn the federal and state discrimination laws, they will see how they apply in the workplace. Indeed, our courses do not just teach the “black letter law,” they have true practical value for your managers and employees that many competing courses do not.

Syntrio is committed to helping businesses avoid the costly mistakes associated with race discrimination and harassment. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our employment discrimination courses for employees and management and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on compliance that impact your company!

 

Truck Drivers Win $240,000 in Religious Discrimination Suit After Refusal to Deliver Alcoholic Beverages

Two former truck drivers requested religious accommodation to refrain from delivering alcoholic beverages based on their Muslim Faith in 2009. The employer rejected the assertion and fired the drivers, leading to a lawsuit that recently culminated in a $240,000 (plus back pay) verdict in favor of the two employees. The jury found that the employees’ request for accommodation would not have imposed undue hardship on the business.

Important to the jury’s finding, the company admitted that the employees frequently switched assignments, which provided clear evidence that it would have been reasonable to accommodate the drivers’ request, rather than terminate their employment.

Religious Discrimination Lawsuits Gaining Prevalence

This lawsuit is the most recent in a string of anti-Muslim and faith-based discrimination lawsuits in the employment law arena. These suits have brought to light the need for employers to conduct full-scale training courses to ensure that managers are well educated in the law and how it applies to situations involving requests for accommodation. All too often employers are quick to reassign or terminate employees who make religious requests that do not conform to the beliefs the managers hold, or seem to impose difficulty on schedule making or other day-to-day operations.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and state fair employment laws prohibit discrimination in employment decisions based on sincerely held religious beliefs. As part of the anti-discrimination laws, employers are required to accommodate reasonable requests that do not impose undue hardship on the business (a difficult standard to pass). Because the law protects even unconventional religions, employers are often faced with the difficult decision of accommodating an unorthodox request or facing a lawsuit.

Syntrio’s Training Courses Prepare You for the Unexpected

Syntrio’s discrimination and harassment training courses provide time-sensitive and cost-effective religious discrimination training through real-life and hypothetical situations that your managers can relate to. After providing a foundation in the law and a framework for how these types of cases arise, your managers will view a series of vignettes and some text-based scenarios illustrating nuances in the law that can lead to costly lawsuits. After doing so, your managers will be better prepared to make the tough calls on religious and other accommodation requests, and reduce the likelihood that the company will face liability and wind up in court.

Syntrio is committed to helping employers avoid the costly mistakes (and costly litigation) that are associated with complicated areas of employment law. We are also able to custom-tailor our courses to fit the needs of your business.  Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our prevention of discrimination in the workplace courses for management and remember to follow us on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance issues that impact your company!