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

U.S. Department of Labor Announces Increased Salary Requirement for Overtime Exemptions

 

Last year we informed you of the United States Department of Labor (“DOL”) proposal to amend the white-collar overtime exemption to increase the salary threshold necessary to be considered exempt from the FLSA overtime laws. On May 23, 2016, the DOL announced the long-awaited revision to its regulations, which more than doubles the minimum salary requirement to qualify for the overtime exemption. This change will have significant implications for employers across the country.

According to statistics published by the DOL, the amended regulations will require employers to pay overtime to as many as 4 million additional employees unless their salary is increased to the new minimum threshold. The new regulations take effect December 1, 2016, and raise the requirement for exempt status from $23,660 ($455 per week) to $47,476 ($913 per week).

It is important to remember that the salary requirement under the FLSA will be adjusted for inflation every three years, so this is not a one-time increase. That said, the so-called “duties test” (meaning the primary duties the employee performs must fall into the administrative, professional or executive classification) was not changed under the amended regulations.

Now would be an excellent time for your company to schedule online wage and hour training for your managers. Given the large number of employees who now may be subject to overtime compensation (or a healthy raise), it is important to review all of the wage and hour laws that are the subject of significant litigation throughout the country.

The DOL changes also present special problems for California employers, as the federal salary threshold is actually higher than that currently required under state law (twice the minimum wage). This means that a significant number of employees in California will need salary review to see if they still qualify for overtime exemptions. Further, California’s recently enacted staggered minimum wage increases will place the California salary threshold higher than the federal standard by 2019, causing continued confusion for employers.

Syntrio is committed to helping businesses avoid costly incidents associated with wage and hour litigation. 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. 

Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our wage and hour 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!

 

California Updates Anti-Discrimination Regulations for 2016

California Updates Anti-Discrimination Regulations

 

California has long been known as the most employee-friendly state when it comes to employment laws and regulations. Indeed, California’s bi-annual sex harassment training law and its anti-discrimination laws are some of the most complex in the entire nation. California has revised its Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) regulations to include a host of new rules, all of which are in an effort to keep up with statutory changes in the past several years. Many of the changes modify existing requirements, but there are important new twists. The new rules go into effect on April 1, 2016.

The following paragraphs are a summary of the new rules. All employers with 5 or more employees should study the rules themselves to ensure effective implementation.

Among the provisions of the rules include the following:

  • The new regulations provide precise definitions of the following terms: gender expression, gender identity, sex stereotype, and transgender.

  • California has a new requirement that employers have a delineated policy to combat discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.
  • Companies must disseminate that policy to the entire workforce.
  • The regulations extend national-origin protections to undocumented immigrants who hold special “AB 60” drivers’ licenses.

The new regulations also provide guidance on what must be contained in the required policies targeted at preventing discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Specifically, the regulations state that the policy should:

  • State that the employer will not take remedial action if any wrongdoing is detected.

  • State that the employer will not retaliate against an employee for making a complaint or participating in an investigation.
  • Instruct supervisors to report all complaints to a company representative.
  • List all protected groups under the Fair Employment & Housing Act.
  • Specify that supervisors, co-workers and third parties are prohibited from engaging in unlawful behavior under the FEHA.
  • Explain the reporting procedure under the policy.
  • State that all complaints will be followed by a fair and thorough investigation.

In addition to posting these new requirements in a public area at the workplace, an effective means of conveying these rules is implementing an online anti-discrimination training program that explains the policies and procedures in-depth so that your employees understand their obligations under the law. The FEHA is a complicated law that provides many protections to employees that are not available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In addition to the mandatory California sex harassment training requirement that many companies in the state are required to follow, it is important for companies of all sizes to engage in active training programs to not only aid in compliance with these new regulations but to improve company culture as a whole.

Syntrio is committed to helping employers avoid the costly mistakes associated with employment law violations. 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 California employment discrimination courses for employees and management and remember to follow on TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on compliance issues that  impact your company!