Blood Bank of Hawaii to Pay $175,000 to Settle EEOC Discrimination Lawsuit

Blood Collection Company Fired Employees with Disabilities for Needing Additional Time Off, Federal Agency Charges

HONOLULU, Hawaii – Blood Bank of Hawaii, a non-profit blood collection company, will pay $175,000 to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced
today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Blood Bank of Hawaii did not provide employees with disabilities leave beyond the required 12-weeks of leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and required employees to return to work without
limitation at the end of their medical leave. The company also fired employees who had either exhausted their medical leave or were unable to return to work without restrictions.

Such conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prohibits employers from discriminating against employees with disabilities. The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court of Hawaii (U.S. EEOC v. Blood Bank of
Hawaii, Case No. 1:17-cv-00444-HG-WRP) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation agreement through its voluntary conciliation process.

In addition to the $175,000, the Blood Bank of Hawaii agreed to put in place measures to prevent discrimination within the workplace. This includes retaining an EEO consultant, designating an in-house ADA coordinator, revising the current ADA
policy and distributing it to all employees. The company also agreed to training and the development an internal log for all ADA accommodation requests. The court will maintain jurisdiction for the term of the two-year consent decree.

“We continue to see employers not properly engaging in the interactive process,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District, which includes Hawaii in its jurisdiction. “We commend Blood Bank of Hawaii for choosing to
resolve this complaint and for putting in place measures that will benefit all employees in the workplace.”  

Glory Gervacio Saure, director of the EEOC’s Honolulu Local Office, said, “This resolution will send a message throughout the state of Hawaii that employers need to be aware of their obligations under the ADA. We are pleased Blood Bank of Hawaii
has taken steps to make meaningful changes to their policies.”

Addressing disability discrimination in the form of inflexible leave policies that discriminate against individuals with disabilities is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by
subscribing to our email updates.

New York Protects Religious Garb and Facial Hair in the Workplace

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently signed into effect an amendment to state law which expressly prohibits discrimination against employees based on clothing or facial hair worn in accordance with the employee’s religion. The amendment is set to take effect Oct. 8. Here’s what New York employers need to know about this development.

Background and Summary

According to a memo from the bill’s sponsors, the legislation was inspired in part by a Sikh employee who sued the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), his employer, after he was told he had to either remove his turban or brand it with the MTA’s logo. After lawmakers passed the bill, Cuomo signed it on Aug. 9.

Once effective, the amendment the New York State Human Rights Law will expressly prohibit an employer from taking any discriminatory action against an employee— including refusing to hire, retain or promote—for wearing any clothing, attire or facial hair associated with the requirements of the employee’s religion. The employer bears the burden to demonstrate that it cannot reasonably accommodate the employee’s religious practice, such as wearing a yarmulke, headscarf, turban, burqa or hijab, without undue hardship to the business. 

New York law has long prohibited discrimination based on religion and already requires employers to provide employees with reasonable accommodations based on their religious beliefs. While most New York employment lawyers would maintain that discrimination based on religious-based attire or facial hair was already unlawful under the state’s antidiscrimination laws, by expressly prohibiting such conduct, the state is putting employers on notice that it will not tolerate this type of behavior. 

Next Steps

Employers in New York should review their uniform, grooming and appearance policies to ensure they are in compliance with the amendments, as well as recent legislation prohibiting hairstyle discrimination. Additionally, employers should ensure they have a procedure in place for employees to request any religious based workplace accommodations, including those related to wearing religious garb or facial hair. 

Melissa Osipoff is an attorney with Fisher Phillips in New York City. © 2019 Fisher Phillips. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission. 

Wal-Mart Stores East, LP Will Pay $100,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Leading Retailer Failed to Reasonably Accommodate Deaf Employees Federal Agency Charged

WASHINGTON – Wal-Mart Stores East, LP will pay $100,000 and furnish significant equitable relief to resolve a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Oppor­tunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency
announced today.

The EEOC charged that Wal-Mart Stores East, LP refused to provide communications accommodations, such as access to sign language interpreters and closed-captioned training videos, to two deaf employees who worked at Walmart Store No. 5941 in
Northwest Washington, D.C. The employees were entitled to reasonable accommodations so they could obtain information from, and participate in, meetings, trainings and other workplace communications, the EEOC said.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits workplace discrimination based on an individual’s disability. The ADA requires employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities unless it would pose an undue
hardship. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-2799) in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, after first attempting to reach a voluntary, pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation
process.

In addition to paying $100,000 in monetary relief, the two-year consent decree resolving the suit enjoins Walmart Store No. 5941 from violating the ADA, including engaging in unlawful retaliation. Walmart Store No. 5941 has also agreed to revise
its reasonable accommodations Management Guidelines, provide live training to management employees on the ADA’s reasonable accommodations requirements, and address issues related to deaf or hard-of-hearing persons, and provide training to all
non-management employees on the ADA and the process for requesting a reasonable accommodation. Walmart Store No. 5941 will also post a notice about the settlement and report to the EEOC about its compliance with the consent decree.

“This settlement should encourage all employers to provide reasonable accommodations that allow equal access for deaf and hard-of-hearing employees and applicants to engage fully in the workplace,” said Acting Washington Field Office District
Director Mindy Weinstein.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence added, “In addition to the monetary relief, the settlement provides important equitable relief to provide deaf and hard-of-hearing employees and appli­cants with effective accommodations so they can
participate in workplace communications and have equal employment opportunities.”

The EEOC’s Washington Field Office has jurisdiction over the District of Columbia and the Virginia counties of Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Prince William, Stafford and Warren; and the independent Virginia cities of
Alexandria, Fairfax City, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park and Winchester.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by
subscribing to our email updates.

College Shopping Q&As

Author: PeopleFinders on August 19th, 2019

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Determining which college to go to is an incredibly important decision. In fact, it’ll shape the rest of your life. Your college education is a defining factor in your career. It connects you with the people with whom you become friends. It influences your general reputation, and touches on a host of other individual aspects of your life. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you have a good college experience.

How do you choose the best college for you? Keep these important questions in mind to help you choose the best college:

Where Did You Grow Up?

Location is an important part of your college decision-making.

Some people like to stay close to home when they go to college. Whether it’s a community college or a university in the area, having a collegiate education in the place where you grew up can be a great option. It’s also a good way to start gradually separating from your younger life. If you’re planning to eventually move somewhere else, going to a nearby college is a great way to make the transition easier.

On the other hand, sometimes an out-of-state college is a better choice. If there aren’t any good colleges in your area, or you want to enroll in specialty classes that aren’t offered at nearby colleges, you’ll need to find a college that may be out of the way. It can also be a good way to strike out on your own and establish your own identity more quickly.

What Are You Passionate About?

Essentially, what are the most important things that you admire in a college? Do you want to make sure the extracurricular activities are robust and useful? Do you want a party college with a reputation for fun? Do you want a college that’s well-known, even by people who don’t have higher education? Do you want a college that’s respected in your desired field of study?

Of course, there are other questions you can ask to help lead you to the ideal college. However, when it comes to narrowing down the huge field of potential options, these are good preliminary questions. You shouldn’t merely want a college where you can get a good education; you should find a college where you can make great lasting memories as well.

What Do You Want Your Career to Be?

What you’re passionate about doesn’t always translate to workable long-term goals. You need to think about those goals before you decide on your college, since college is exactly what is preparing you for the long-term.

Some careers need specialized training that can only be found at a few colleges. In fact, to get the best education in some fields, you may even need to travel abroad for your studies. On the other hand, you can get classes for some careers at just about any college in the country. Think about what you want to do in the long-term before you settle on a college.

How Much Can You Afford?

There’s been a whole lot of talk lately about sky-high student debt. This is a real crisis, in that, as of June 2018, 44 million people owed a staggering $1.5 trillion in student loans.

When you’re shopping for college, you need to take into account the total cost of going there: tuition, books, housing, food, incidentals. Look into what grants or scholarships are available to make up for any shortages of a college fund. Consider going to a college that might be a bit less prestigious, but still offers a good education for the money. And really think about it before taking out student loans; at it stands right now, they can follow you around for many years after you graduate.

How Much Should Safety Factor-In?

College isn’t just about having fun or getting a good education; it’s about both. At the same time, you need to make sure you’re being safe. This can be more influential than you might think when it comes to choosing a college. Some colleges, even ones that are otherwise perfect, may be in a more dangerous area or have certain collegiate living spaces in dangerous parts of town. To try to avoid that situation, use PeopleFinders.

When you’re deciding on a college or trying to determine where you’re going to live, the PeopleFinders address lookup just may be a literal lifesaver. Before you make the decision to go to any specific college, check its address and those of potential housing locations using PeopleFinders. Doing so may reveal criminal occurrences and other troublesome regional info that might make you think twice about choosing that institution.

Conclusion

College should be an enjoyable experience. By making sure you do your research before you choose a college, you can ensure that you’re getting the best education while also enjoying yourself the whole time.

To increase your enjoyment, use PeopleFinders to check on your potential address. College safety isn’t the only thing that PeopleFinders may be able to help you with, either. Make sure you check the PeopleFinders blog regularly to get more ideas about how to keep yourself safe.

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Categorized in: Culture

Your Career Q&A: Lay the Foundation for a Promotion

Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column.

The company I worked for was bought. I saw layoffs coming and so I found a new job elsewhere. However, the new position is a bit below my experience and skill level. I don’t want to step on toes or come in acting like I know everything. But I do want to grow, and I want to be a part of the team. I have been here now for three weeks and I am very impressed by the people I get to work with. Everyone is very kind and supportive, but I can tell that the woman who is doing most of my training is a bit leery of me. Do you have any suggestions on how I might be able to win her over to my side? I don’t want to compete with her. I want to support her and learn from her. 

It seems you’ve been with the company only a short time, but still long enough for one of the people who is likely to be involved in getting you a promotion to become “a bit leery” of you. It’s hard to say, but maybe you have come on too strong? Let’s take a step back and talk about how to lay the foundation for winning a promotion.

The first lesson to learn about winning promotions is that you can never expect to land one unless you have first been accepted as a productive member of the team.

Ideally, you start positioning yourself as a team member—as you say you want to be—as soon as you join the new company. The sooner you begin, the fewer negative impressions you might have to overcome. This is when you focus on becoming accepted as a member of the team and the department’s inner circle—that inner circle being where the raises and promotions are distributed.

Make a Positive First Impression

Your boss expects the same person who interviewed for the job to show up for the job—make sure you are presenting yourself that way.

Get clear direction on the responsibilities of your job and the deliverables of each.

Just as you need time to get to know the company, its services, and its people, they need time to get to know you. Go out of your way to smile and introduce yourself to everyone and learn their names and show interest in their responsibilities.

Understand and show respect for the roles of other team members, and those of people in other departments with whom you interact on a regular basis. Do your job in a way that shows you are striving to make everyone’s work easier; this helps others accept and trust you, especially your department’s decision-makers.

Learn Who’s Who

In every department, there is an inner circle and an outer circle. People in the inner circle get things done, enjoy plum assignments and earn promotions. People in the outer circle do what it takes to get by, enjoy finding fault and rarely contribute to solutions. Any critical, dismissive or derisive comments you make in the early days can quickly get you assigned to the outer circle. Form good relationships inside and outside your department, and whatever you do, never gossip or speak ill of any person or directive.

At the same time as you are settling in and learning the ropes, your managers and co-workers are looking carefully at how you function and trying to fit you into the group. Their considerations evaluate:

  • How well you know your job.
  • If you execute your duties in a professional way that is respectful of the work and responsibilities of others.
  • If you shoulder your share of the responsibility for creating a friendly, positive workplace.
  • How you make decisions and if you respect professional protocols.
  • How you treat other people, recognize their contributions and give due credit.
  •  If you recognize and respect the hierarchy of the team.

Understand Management’s Expectations

Knowing and delivering on management’s expectations for your productivity is critical, first to keeping your job and then to gaining a promotion. On a regular basis, ask your boss for informal feedback on how you are doing, and how you can do better. 

Managers appreciate direct reports who make giving constructive input painless, and then use the feedback to improve their performance. If performance issues come up, be open to the input and clarify the steps you should take to improve.

Pursue these informal evaluations every few weeks—they help keep your commitment and drive visible to those who count.

Gain Management’s Acceptance

Learn your job and how its role plays into the goals of the department. Put in whatever effort is necessary to get the job done right. Whenever you see a colleague who needs a hand, step up and help. If you see something that needs doing, either volunteer or simply step up and get it done. 

Communication Rules

Taking a slow, methodical approach in the first 90 days will speed your acceptance by the group, while giving you the time to recognize the power players among your peers. No one likes to be overwhelmed with genius, and the better you are, the more you have to work at humility and a low profile until you have been accepted.

Take the time to start your new job on the right foot and you’ll gain acceptance by the team and especially that inner circle—where your future lies.

Have a question for Martin about advancing or managing your career? From big issues to small, please feel free to e-mail your queries to YourCareerQA@shrm.org. We’ll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know.

Packed with practical, honest, real-world guidance for successfully navigating common HR career challenges, Martin Yate’s new book, The HR Career Guide: Great Answers to Tough Career Questions, is available at the SHRMStore. Order your copy today!

Immigration Officials Say Plants Knowingly Hired Undocumented Workers

Several chicken processing plants in Mississippi may have violated federal law by knowingly employing undocumented immigrants, according to recently released affidavits from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. However, company employees said they complied with E-Verify—a federal electronic employment eligibility system—and that they never knowingly employed people who presented false documentation to work, reported The Washington Post.

ICE agents raided seven agricultural processing plants Aug. 7 and detained about 680 immigrants who the agency said were unlawfully working at the plants. This was the largest workplace raid in recent years.

An ICE spokesman said no charges have been filed against the companies or the workers since the raids, according to The Washington Post.

We’ve rounded up articles and resources from SHRM Online and other trusted media outlets on the news.

ICE Worked with Confidential Informants

Businesses in Mississippi have been required to use E-Verify since 2008. But the system can’t always tell if an employee used falsified employment documents to get hired because it only checks the names, Social Security numbers and other information provided by the worker. So immigration officials worked with confidential informants employed by the plants to gather information about potential legal violations and also recorded conversations between informants and managers and HR professionals. Officials alleged that at least 20 employees’ names were not put through E-Verify at one plant. An HR professional at another plant allegedly said “management does not care” about employing immigrants with questionable documentation.

(The Washington Post)

Managers and HR May Be Targeted by ICE

Affidavits that were made public after the raids show that ICE agents believed the five companies that own the plants were “willfully and unlawfully” employing undocumented immigrants. Some of the affidavits point to manager misconduct. At one plant, an employee said a worker presented identification to HR with different names each time she was hired. Julie Myers Wood, a former assistant secretary of homeland security, said ICE’s use of informants might mean the agency is trying to be more aggressive about targeting employers. “They are being aggressive and trying to target rogue H.R. managers or others within the management chain,” she said.

(The New York Times)

Plant Holds Job Fair After Raids

At least 100 workers attended a job fair Aug. 12 to apply for positions made available in part by the raids. In Mississippi, the poultry industry is a large economic driver, and job applicants said they hoped employment with one of the plants would improve their finances by offering a steadier paycheck, slightly higher wages and a more accommodating schedule than other jobs in the rural area. Some applicants said they didn’t think the plants would be able to fully replace the jobs that were vacated as a result of the raid. “There are 680 jobs that were lost, and there are not 680 people here,” said one job-fair attendee.

(The Washington Post)

Immigration Worksite Enforcement Surged in 2018

Worksite investigations, Form I-9 audits and employee arrests spiked in fiscal year (FY) 2018 compared to the previous year, according to ICE data. Worksite investigations rose by more than 300 percent, and the agency set 10-year highs for the number of I-9 audits conducted and criminal charges filed.

(SHRM Online)

How HR Can Prepare for Workplace Audits and Avoid Fines

Employers can avoid big fines by developing a comprehensive I-9 compliance program, which should include training, self-audits and an investigation-day action plan. Employers must properly complete a Form I-9 for each person they hire, or they may be subject to criminal and civil sanctions. Monetary penalties for knowingly hiring and employing undocumented workers range from $375 to $16,000 per violation, with repeat offenders receiving penalties at the higher end. Penalties for technical violations, which include failing to produce a Form I-9, range from $110 to $1,100 per violation. 

(SHRM Online)

Visit SHRM’s resource page on workplace immigration

California Lawmakers Approve Change to Workplace Injury Reporting

California employers will have to immediately report serious occupational injuries and illnesses and workplace fatalities to the state by phone or an online system if Gov. Gavin Newsom signs a bill that legislators recently sent his way.

Employers in the state must complete a report—on a form provided by the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR)—for every employee’s injury or illness that results in lost time beyond the date of the incident and requires medical treatment beyond first aid.

Additionally, employers must report all serious occupational injuries and illnesses, as well as fatalities, to the DIR’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) by telephone or e-mail within eight hours of when the employer knew or should have known about the incident.

Under AB 1804, however, employers would no longer be able to report serious incidents through e-mail once Cal/OSHA establishes the online reporting system. Though, employers would still be able to report incidents by phone.

The California Legislature approved the bill on Aug. 12 and Newsom has until Oct. 12 to sign it. If approved, the new law would take effect in January 2020.

E-mail Reporting Deemed Problematic

Advocates for AB 1804 said that e-mail reporting is problematic. Specifically, e-mailed incident reports may be incomplete and fail to provide meaningful information to Cal/OSHA about the workplace incident. As a result, Cal/OSHA may not be able to promptly investigation the situation or take other action to ensure workplace safety. The bill’s sponsors said online reporting would allow Cal/OSHA to “implement a more effective and responsive reporting system.”

(The National Law Review)

‘Serious Injury or Illness’ Defined

With some exceptions, California law defines a work-related “serious injury or illness” as requiring inpatient hospitalization for more than 24 hours (for more than just medical observation), the loss of a body part or a serious degree of permanent disfigurement.

(California Department of Industrial Relations)

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Complying with California Safety Standards]

California Workplace Safety Standards Exceed OSHA’s Rules

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) allows states to develop their own workplace health and safety plans, as long as those plans are “at least as effective” as the federal program. So some states, such as California, have rules that are more stringent than the federal requirements, and some have standards that are not addressed by federal OSHA. For example, Cal/OSHA addresses working in high temperatures outdoors and requires employers to have written injury and illness prevention programs, while federal OSHA does not.

(SHRM Online)

Federal and State Record-Keeping Rules May Vary

Employers that are covered by federal OSHA’s record-keeping rules must post a summary of work-related injury and illnesses in a noticeable place for a certain period each year. Federal regulations limit the degree to which state OSHA plans can vary their record-keeping requirements, but California and federal safety provisions have key differences that employers should note.

(California Department of Industrial Relations)

SoftPro to Pay $80,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Software Company Fired Employee for Perceived Disability, Federal Agency Charged

RALEIGH, N.C. – SoftPro, LLC, a Delaware software company headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., will pay $80,000 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC),
the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Matthew Elliott worked for SoftPro in an IT position at the company’s Raleigh headquarters. Elliott, an individual with a record of opiate addiction, participated in physician-supervised medication-assisted
treatment (MAT) for the addiction since 2009. In February 2017, Elliott took leave from SoftPro and voluntarily admitted himself to an inpatient treatment facility to elimin­ate the need for MAT. Elliott successfully completed the inpatient
treatment and returned to work. Upon his return to work, Elliott was questioned by SoftPro about the purpose of his leave. Elliott disclosed his recent participation in a treatment program to eliminate his need for ongoing MAT. SoftPro fired Elliott
on Feb. 27, 2017 because it perceived him as disabled, the EEOC said. 

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees and applicants from discrimination based on their disabilities, including perceived dis­abilities and records of disabilities. The EEOC filed suit
in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division (EEOC v. SoftPro, LLC, Civil Action No. 5:18-cv-00463) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. Thereafter,
Elliott joined in the suit individually with his own counsel. 

In addition to the $80,000 in damages, the three-year consent decree settling the lawsuit requires that SoftPro revise, implement and distribute personnel policies to state that the com­pany does not exclude employees based on their participation
in a medication-assisted treatment program. The company must also provide annual training to its human resources team, managers, supervisors, and employees; post a notice to employees relating to the settlement; and report to the EEOC all negative
employment actions the company takes against employees who have a record of substance abuse disorder or who are currently participating in, or have successfully completed, a drug rehabilitation program.

“Employees in recovery and actively participating in treatment should not fear losing their jobs,” said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney of the EEOC’s Charlotte District Office. “The EEOC will continue to litigate cases where people with
disabilities are terminated based on fears and assumptions about the work they can perform.”

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by
subscribing to our email updates.

DOL Proposes More Changes to Regulations on Overtime Calculations

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) plans to update its rules on the fluctuating workweek method of calculating overtime pay to cover more workers and provide employers with greater flexibility.

The department sent a proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget on Aug. 15, reported Politico’s Morning Shift.

This is just one of several employer-friendly proposed changes the DOL is pursuing, and Acting Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella is expected to move faster than his predecessor, Alexander Acosta, to finalize new rules. Pizzella is considered more aggressively pro-business than Acosta.

We’ve rounded up the latest news on the DOL’s proposed changes from SHRM Online.

What Is the Fluctuating Workweek Method?

Under the fluctuating workweek method, employees who are entitled to overtime pay receive a fixed weekly salary, which is divided by the actual number of hours an employee worked in the week to determine the week’s base hourly rate. The employees will then receive an additional 0.5 times their base rate for each hour worked beyond 40 in the workweek.

This is an alternative to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA’s) regular method of calculating overtime pay, under which employees are paid an hourly rate and receive 1.5 times that rate for overtime hours.

To use the fluctuating workweek method, employees’ hours actually have to fluctuate on a week-to-week basis, and employees must receive the fixed salary even when they work less than their regularly scheduled hours. Additionally, there must be a clear mutual understanding between the business and employees about how workers are paid.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Complying with U.S. Wage and Hour Laws and Wage Payment Laws]

Employers currently can’t use this method to calculate overtime pay for employees who receive bonuses and other incentive-based pay, so the DOL plans to revise the regulations. The department wants to give employers “greater flexibility to provide additional forms of compensation to employees whose hours vary from week to week,” according to the federal government’s spring regulatory agenda.

(SHRM Online)

Federal Overtime Rule May Be Issued Sooner than Expected

Employers are particularly interested in what will happen with the proposed overtime rule. In it, the DOL has proposed raising the salary threshold for white-collar exemptions to $35,308 annually. The proposed level is a compromise between the current $23,660 threshold and the now-blocked $47,476 cutoff that was adopted by President Barack Obama’s administration in 2016.

Pizzella, as acting secretary of labor, will likely move ahead quickly with this proposal. He is completely committed to ensuring the rule is finalized by year’s end, said Michael Lotito, an attorney with Littler in San Francisco, “knowing that once 2020 begins, all focus turns to the election and any new rules take on heightened politization.” 

(SHRM Online)

DOL Proposes Update to ‘Regular Rate’ Calculation

For the first time in 50 years, the DOL has proposed an update to the FLSA definition of the “regular rate” of pay, which is used to calculate overtime premiums. The regular rate includes hourly wages and salaries for nonexempt workers, most bonuses, shift differentials, on-call pay and commissions. However, it excludes health insurance, paid leave, holiday and other discretionary bonuses, and certain gifts. Many employers aren’t sure if certain perks must be included in the regular rate of pay. So instead of risking a lawsuit some employers are choosing not to offer competitive benefits.

(SHRM Online)

Joint-Employer Rule Would Provide Clarity

The DOL has also proposed a multifactor test that would be used to determine whether businesses are joint employers that share liability for FLSA wage and hour violations. The proposal aims to provide clarity for businesses, which will likely not be deemed joint employers if they stay out of the day-to-day employment decisions of their contractors and franchisees.

“If adopted, it may result in fewer businesses being found liable for minimum wage, overtime and other similar liability under the FLSA,” said John Polson, an attorney with Fisher Phillips in Irvine, Calif. “The proposed rule is intended to reduce uncertainty and inconsistency in court and agency decisions with respect to joint-employer status.”

(SHRM Online)

Leadership Changes May Take A While

President Donald Trump announced in July that Eugene Scalia, son of the late U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, would be his pick to replace Acosta as secretary of labor—but the confirmation process could take a while. “The confirmations have been slow over the past few years,” Lotito explained. “While I hope the confirmation might take place in September, it can clearly slip beyond that timeline.”

(SHRM Online)

How to Keep Elderly Relatives Safe at Home

Author: PeopleFinders on August 15th, 2019

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As your loved ones start to age and lose some of their mobility, it’s important to figure out how much care they may need, and by whom. Except in cases of extreme physical or mental disability, it is probably not necessary for an elderly family member to move into a nursing home. But what can you do to make sure they’re still safe at their home.

If you’ve never cared for an elderly family member, however, this may all be foreign to you. You need not flounder, however.

Just do these very simple things to improve your loved one’s at-home life:

  • Put in safety and mobility features
  • Enable alerts for health emergencies
  • Consider extra precautions for mental health issues
  • Safely pursue social interactions

Install General Safety Features

You should install safety features of some kind around stairs, in bathrooms, and around the places where your loved ones tend to spend most of their time. For example, a simple bar in the shower can keep a senior from falling and suffering an injury.

Older adults become disproportionately more likely to injure themselves in the bathroom; those 85 and older are over five times more likely than those 55-65. By taking an afternoon to fix extremely slippery areas, add grab bars near potential falling hazards, and otherwise make things a little easier to access in the bathroom, you can drastically increase a loved one’s likelihood of staying safe at home.

Make It Easy to Call for Help

If something bad does happen, the loved one in question needs to be able to call for help. A common option is an alert system that an elderly person wears around the neck or wrist that only has one button on it. In the event of a problem, a push of the button alerts that person’s crisis team.

If that’s not available or easily accessible in your area, make sure the relative carries a cell phone at all times, even just a simple flip phone. With the rise of smart devices, you may be able to program a smart device to automatically send you a message or give you a call if your elderly relative says a short phrase. No matter how you accomplish it, make sure your loved one can call out for help.

Go a Little Further for Mental Decline

Many seniors deal with their mind deteriorating as well as their body. If your loved one is dealing with dementia or Alzheimer’s and has a hard time with day-to-day life, you need to make sure you’re keeping the house safe.

Essentially, do everything you’d do to “child-proof” a house. Lock away potentially dangerous chemicals, secure breakable objects, and make the home easier to navigate. Make sure you’re thinking about the unexpected. Someone may choose to move-in or come over everyday to make sure everything’s going smoothly.

Encourage Safer Interactions with Neighbors

Being part of a community can be immensely helpful for seniors. Oftentimes, seniors feel cut off from their community. They may have had friends from many years ago who’ve moved away or passed on. Being unable to get out and socialize as much as they want can contribute to that frustration. At the same time, you need to make sure they’re staying safe when talking to those neighbors. You can try to help with both of those things by using PeopleFinders.

With PeopleFinders, you may be able to get the information you need to keep your elderly relatives safe. Perform an address lookup on your loved one’s home (and their neighbors’) to try and get more information about the neighborhood and the individuals who live nearby.

Say you or your relative do decide to start meeting people directly. There, the people search can potentially give you access to information on who the neighbors are, where they’re from, and potential criminal backgrounds.

Conclusion

If you want to help your elderly relatives, you can make it easier for them to live their day-to-day lives with just a few easy changes. These don’t even take much time to implement. You could essentially do it without even having to take time off work. Whether you’re improving their home or improving their social life, spending time with your elderly relatives can only lead to something good.

Use the tools at PeopleFinders to try and keep your elderly relatives safe when they do go out and start socializing. A strong social life is essential to physical and mental health. And with these powerful tools, you can help them do it in the best way possible.

Image attribution: Evrymmnt – stock.adobe.com

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