"discrimination" Blog Tag

Coronavirus – Jaws or Y2K?

March 12th, 2020


Coronavirus – Jaws or Y2K*?

For you the employer, for you the HR Director, for you the person in charge of paid leave and benefits and payroll and who everyone turns to when no one knows what to do: is COVID-19 much ado about nothing or will you need a bigger boat?

If you answered bigger boat, below is a list of articles, blogs, podcasts, briefings and audio files from our authors, Chambers of Commerce we work with, the Centers for Disease Control, the EPA, recognized experts in HR and others.

Click the state name for material specific to you. The state is followed by the author(s) of the resources and/or contact in case you have a pressing legal need.

*For those of you around for the changing of the millennia, Y2K was a synonym for the upcoming computer apocalypse, which would in turn cause the meltdown of the workplace as we knew it. Until it was the new millennia. And then it wasn't an apocalypse or a meltdown.

For those of you around in 1975, there was this shark, a big shark, but you figured Robert Shaw and Roy Scheider (and Richard Dreyfuss to a lesser extent) could handle it. Until Roy saw the shark.

Ten steps for employers to consider during the coronavirus outbreak

March 10th, 2020

Kathy Speaker MacNett at SkarlatosZonarich

Employers are asking what measures should be implemented in response to the Coronavirus – COVID-19 outbreak.  Some are even questioning if they need a separate Coronavirus policy for their employees. Consider instead utilizing the employment laws and established Human Resources tools already in place, and supplementing with additional policies applicable to this crisis and future health care crises, only as needed.

The Coronavirus has caused some 3,800 deaths as of this writing; and continues to spread causing wide-spread concern inside and outside of the workplace.  Employers can and should implement positive steps, without causing panic. 

Kathy Speaker MacNett recommends consideration of the following ten steps:

Dr. Love(less) he don't need no office life

February 14th, 2020

Robin Shea at Constangy

The past two years, Robin Shea at Constangy has been kind enough to share her interview with Dr. Loveless, renowned advice columnist to . . . those of us who chose the office life. And sometimes those who don't. As long as it pays. Whatever.

This year, Amour De Docteur takes a shot at diagnosing:

  • how not to get called into HR for sexual harassment because "call you soon" means something different to your work colleague 
  • lookback LGBT discrimination
  • live-in relationship: commitment, sleeping dogs lying around or nepotism?
  • is a JD a real doctor, loveless or not?
  • suspicion.

(Yes, the title of this blog is an actual line from the lyrics of "Dr. Love" by heavy glam metal disco ballad rock band Kiss.)

IA Waterloo - Will Ban the Box be your Waterloo?

December 4th, 2019

Bridget Penick and Cara Donels at Fredrikson & Byron

So say you are Napoleon and you live in Waterloo, Iowa. And you are about to raise an army and go conquer stuff. First order of business is hiring your (literal) lieutenants.

Do you ask said potential lieutenant if they have a criminal record?  Of course not - having a criminal record would not disqualify a candidate from helping you vanquish a territory, and perhaps may even carry some skills you could use along the way.

Perhaps allow Bridget Penick and Cara Donels to temper your army-raising and conquering-stuff ambitions and lower expectations to somewhere around not breaking the law as they help you understand the new "Ban the Box" ordinance and provide four steps to help you prepare.

Murder by Death

December 2nd, 2019


From imdb:

Five famous literary detective characters and their sidekicks are invited to a bizarre mansion to solve an even stranger mystery.

The Royal Tenenbaums

December 2nd, 2019


From imdb:

The eccentric members of a dysfunctional family reluctantly gather under the same roof for various reasons.

Knives Out

December 2nd, 2019


From imdb:

A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.


No-match letters – IRS alert or Charles Nelson Reilly game show?

November 22nd, 2019

Frances Rayer at Cozen O'Connor

No-match letter from the IRS

What it is: an alert that indicates information provided by an employer does not match that of the Social Security Administration which will also make very clear NOT TO TAKE ADVERSE ACTION AGAINST THE EMPLOYEE as a result of the no-match letter.

What it is not: a game show featuring Charles Nelson Reilly.

Frances Rayer explains the IRS letter, what to do with it (ignoring is not an option) and what you need to do (including responding).

Bonus: Charles Nelson Reilly was in the premeir of both Bye Bye Birdie and Hello Dolly – go figure.

Second-guessing the advice columns: Get off my lawn!

October 8th, 2019

Robin Shea at Constangy

Working with older employees is something we all do, just as all of us work with younger employees – it is a function of working with people who aren't the same age as you.

But while there are almost as many "How to Relate to Millenials" workshops as there are opportunities for Than Merrill to make you money in real estate, where are the "How to Relate to the Mother Lode of Work Experience and Life Lessons Standing Right in Front of You" workshops?

Robin Shea provides 5 things Millennialites need to hear (OK, that was my Dad channeling through me).

PS – Robin's totally scientific Age-Based Teasing Matrix (above) is pretty sweet. 

IL Artificial hiring, salary history, required training, etc.

September 13th, 2019

Hannah Sorcic and Adam Weiner at ReedSmith

If you hire artificially, can you pay in Sweet N' Low?

Can you ask about an applicant's salary history? Is sexual harassment prevention triaining mandatory? Every year? Are non-employees protected from harassment by the law? Another mandatory annual reporting requirement every year?

Hannah Sorcic and Adam Weiner answer these questions (well, maybe not about paying in Sweet N' Low) and more.

Retaliation (wait . for . it . . . ) is all about the timing

September 9th, 2019

Robin Shea at Constangy

You can teach timing.  Carol Burnett, comedian

You know, sometimes, when they say you're ahead of your time, it's just a polite way of saying you have a real bad sense of timing.  George McGovern, politician

Observe due measure, for right timing is in all things the most important factor.  Hesiod, father of Greek didactic poetry

In retaliation cases, timing is everything. Or almost everything.  Robin Shea, partner, Constangy

NY Additional workplace protections for victims of domestic violence

August 28th, 2019

Melissa Osipoff at Fisher Phillips

On August 20, Governor Andrew Cuomo expanded the protections employers must provide to employees who are victims of domestic violence.

The amendment expands protections against discrimination and obligates employers to provide reasonable accommodations for certain conditions of leave.

What do you need to know in order to be in compliance before it becomes effective November 18, 2019?

Randy Newman, racism and rednecks

August 28th, 2019

Fiona Ong at Shawe Rosenthal

FIona Ong discusses how a discrimination claim resulted from a manager apparently trying to protect an employee from racism. No good deed goes unpunished?

Maybe the best part is a federal district court used both the Oxford English Dictionary and Randy Newman to define "redneck".

Look past the laws (pudding) and understand the regs (Oreo)

August 28th, 2019

Kathy Speaker MacNett at SkarlatosZonarich

The proof is not only in the pudding, it's in the regulations and administrative agency interpretations.

So when the employment laws change, be sure you don't stop there because there may be an Oreo cookie hidden somewhere in the pudding (leftovers from an Oreo pie recipe).

NY 11 employment laws you missed if you blinked (not 10)

February 25th, 2020

Jennifer Queliz at Cozen O'Connor

Not content to simply stop at 10 new employment laws and regulations, the state that gives us:

  • Eleven Madison Park (the #4 restaurant in the world),
  • Eleven (a clothing line aiming "to enhance the conversation amongst footballers – the world over")
  • 11R (an art gallery that hasn't updated their website since 2017)

pushes over the double-digit threshhold ala Spinal Tap and their magic amps with 11 new employment laws and regulations that have passed or gone into effect this year.

IL Tidal wave (or tsunami) of new laws for Illinois employers

August 15th, 2019

David Moore and Peter Gillespie at Laner Muchin

Look, I am not one to argue with attorneys because you never know when you might need one, so you decide for yourself the correct roaring-wall-of-water metaphor.

Regardless, any Illinois employer that either has or deals with:

  • employee handbooks
  • confidentiality
  • cannabis
  • policies
  • salary (history, sharing info, pay equity)
  • REQUIRED ANNUAL TRAINING (sexual harassment)
  • employees (probably should have just lead with that)

would be well advised (attorney-speak for "just do it") to read what David Moore and Peter Gillespie have to say and then execute said prescribed actions elucidated (attorney-speak for "just do it") (attorneys have a rather extensive alternative vocabulary).

Make your workplace a SUE-free zone

August 14th, 2019

Robin Shea at Constangy

To be clear (for those of you who don't look at the pictures in my posts, which frankly is a little hurtful), I am not referring to SUE the T. Rex (and yes that is the correct spelling, just ask The Field Museum).

I am referring to getting a piece of certified mail that may make you wish you were battling SUE and not being sued.

We turn again to Robin Shea for five of ten ways employers get themselves sued, as she weaves together medicine, Stranger Things, needles, nachos, the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and hygiene,

NY Reporting immigration status can be unneighborly . . . at best

July 31st, 2019

Subhash Viswanathan at Bond, Schoeneck & King

As of October 27, 2019, New York employers will not only be unneighborly if you:

"threaten, penalize, or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against any employee by threatening to contact or contacting United States immigration authorities or otherwise reporting or threatening to report the citizenship or suspected immigration status of an employee or an employee's family member in retaliation for an employee's complaints about alleged violations of the New York Labor Law"

you might also go to jail.

And write a check for $10,000. Or $20,000 if you are extremely unneighborly and it is your second "threaten, penalize, discriminate, retaliate" offense.

Oh, and back pay. Did I mention back pay?

RIF - Reductions In Force Require Initial Fundamentals

June 20th, 2019

Jean Ohman Back at Schwabe

Reading Is Fundamental has been a part of children’s literacy since 1967. Reductions In Force have been a part of the labor landscape since the 1980s. We just made up Require Initial Fundamentals.

RIF requires volunteers and donations - consider providing your support. RIFs require a sequential list of fundamentals needed to help a company refocus and rebuild while avoiding legal liability - consider Jean Ohman Back your support (for the Reduction in Force stuff).

While none of us at hrsimple.com have a favorite Reduction In Force, here are some of our favorite chilldhood books:

"Fat shaming" at work can cost more than money, a lot of money

April 22nd, 2019

Robin Shea at Constagy

Fat-shaming at work (and everywhere, but we do pander to the SEO gods) is rude, offensive, clueless, inappropriate, (insert your own adjective(s)), and expensive.

Not always expensive, but never helpful.

Robin Shea provides some background, including some help with the behaviour requirements for a legal claim of "intentional infliction of emotional distress" (spoiler alert - did this particular case reach the burden of proof? - OK, not really a spoiler alert) and a bit of potent advice" "Employers should never ignore such behavior".

I forgot ignorant. So ignorant.


One step beyond March Madness

April 4th, 2019

Fiona Ong and Nick Vogt at Shawe Rosenthal

It's March, so Madness is sure to follow. Or is it One Step Beyond March Madness?

Regardless, the NCAA tournament is here, brackets and all, and if you aren't one step ahead, you could be playing from behind.

Fiona Ong and Nick Vogt cover the spread on: gambling, computer use and cybersecurity, productivity, dress code and civility policies, attendance policies.

And a bonus for those of you who wondered if the English ska band Madness was still around (spoiler alert – they are).

Why You Should Care About Employment Law

January 23rd, 2019

Jenny Goltz at Cozen O'Connor

Common Pitfalls for Emerging Companies Founders of emerging companies are often first-time employers and find themselves having to wade through the dense patchwork of state and federal labor and employment laws. This can be a confusing undertaking that often requires legal counsel. However, there are a few very common employment law pitfalls that all emerging com...

One of our favorites, Robin Shea, invites you into her Christmas HR world with a Christmas-themed quiz featuring:

  • Santa
  • Bob Cratchit
  • circumnavigating the globe in one evening in a sleigh pulled by reindeer
  • Ralphie
  • Rudolph
  • Baby It's Cold Outside
  • The Grinch.

Thanks Robin!

And to all a good night!

MeToo, avoiding women, and the modified Mike Pence Rule

December 7th, 2018

Robin Shea at Constangy

One way to for men to avoid a sexual harassment claim is to avoid women. Not coincidently, that is also a way to run right into a sex discrimination claim.

So is the so-called two-step "Mike Pence Rule" (the Vice President reportedly (1) doesn't have dinners alone with women, and (2) doesn't attend parties unless his wife comes with him) a way or no way?

Robin Shea tweaks the Mike Pence Rule while debunking some "avoid" myths.

So you have not CHARGED forward spewing and waving, but instead have taken a deep breath, straightened your spine, not panicked, asked the right questions (if not, please see Step 1 Don't panic, ask questions) then went Kim Possible and asked more questions (if not again, please see Step 2 Go Kim Possible for the investigation phase).

Well done. Now time to find if the EEOC for cause or no cause because that is what they do. Regardless, which is kind of unfair to the EEOC cause they are just doing their job, you aren't finished:

  • A no cause finding! So that's it?
  • A cause finding! Now what?

If you are a skip-to-the-last-page reader, it really is worth going back and picking up the first two steps.

Step 1 Don't panic, ask questions

Step 2 Go Kim Possible for the investigation phase

So you have not CHARGED forward spewing and waving, but instead have taken a deep breath, straightened your spine, not panicked and asked the right questions (if not, please see Step 1 Don't panic, ask questions). Well done. Now time to go all Kim Possible for the investigation phase by answering more questions:

  • So the parties did not resolve the charge at mediation. Now what?
  • What are the best practices for responding to the charge?
  • What if the EEOC requests additional information?

See Step 1 if you skipped it above and then to Step 3.

Step 1 Don't panic, ask questions

Step 3 Cause or no cause, because you gotta do something

Discrimination CHARGE! – Step 1 Don't panic, ask questions

November 28th, 2018

Kristin Gray at FordHarrison

When you receive a charge of discrimination, take a deep breath, straighten that spine and DO NOT respond by CHARGING! forward cursing and waving your arms while proclaiming your innocence.

Don't panic. You and 84,254 (2017 numbers) other employers have or will share the same sense of shock, misery and a slight stomach drop this year. Kristin Gray will calmly walk you through the three steps you need to take. This first step is to find the answers to some important questions:  

  • Who is the EEOC?
  • Is my business covered?
  • Is the charge timely?
  • How should I respond to a request to mediate?

And then on to Steps 2 and 3.

Step 2 Go Kim Possible for the investigation phase

Step 3 Cause or no cause, because you gotta do something


Disability/pregnancy practices – what not to practice

October 16th, 2018

Robin Shea at Constangy

If nothing else, you want to read Robin Shea's blog because she makes a good in-context Kate Gosselin reference. Of course there is "else" which includes stuff you need to work through:

  • DON'T automatically terminate
  • DON'T automatically terminate (no, I DIDN'T stutter, there are two)
  • NO 100% recovered policy
  • "TEMPORARY" can mean a lot of things, like "disability" and "protected"
  • Medical exams/questionnaires – 10 words for you: STOP CHILDREN WHAT'S THAT SOUND EVERYBODY LOOK WHAT'S GOING DOWN.

There is also a picture that is not the Official "Grumpy Cat".