When NOT to Answer Your Boss’s Email

If you’re like most people these days, you probably get too
many emails.

And, if you work in an office, you might view them as the
bane of your existence.

There may be mornings when you go through your in-box more
or less on autopilot, responding to messages quickly just to get them out of
the way.

But be careful. You could become the victim of a spear
phishing attack if you’re not paying attention.

What is spear phishing?

While a basic phishing email comes from a fraudulent source
that tries to impersonate an actual business entity (e.g. impersonating a
credit card company), a spear phishing email also targets the intended

In workplaces, spear phishing campaigns target employees
with emails that appear to be legitimate in-office messages, often from
superiors. Scammers know that workers are highly unlikely to question or ignore
such messages.

They also count on people trusting any attachments that appear to come from co-workers. In fact, “according to a 2017 report from Glasswall Solutions, 82 percent of employees will open email attachments if they appear to be from a known contact.”

There are a couple of common variations of spear phishing

  • Get the recipient to turn over sensitive or
    confidential information, generally by posing as the CEO or someone in HR.
  • Get the recipient to install malware by posing
    as an IT/tech co-worker.

How can you protect yourself?

Are you wondering if it’s possible to recognize one of these
messages before you become a victim? There are a few things you can watch out

  • The sender’s email address may be slightly
    different from the norm (e.g. ends in .co instead of .com).
  • If there are any links in the email body, you
    can hover over them to see if the URLs are trustworthy.
  • Spelling or grammar errors are present. (Keep in
    mind, though, that there are plenty of people who type emails quickly and accidentally
    make errors.)
  • The sender is requesting personal information, a
    password, or money.
  • The way the email is written just doesn’t sound quite

One more thing: If you receive an email that appears to be
from a colleague, but something about it just doesn’t seem quite right, reach
out to them in a separate email (or over the phone, etc.) to confirm if the
message is legitimate.

Intelius does not provide consumer reports and is not a consumer reporting agency as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This site should not be used to determine an individual’s eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, housing or any other purpose covered by the FCRA.

When Selfies Become Dangerous

You may have heard the recent news story about the woman who decided to take a selfie with a jaguar at the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park near Phoenix, AZ.

All would have been fine if she had not chosen to cross the
protective barrier which separates visitors from animals. (If you’re not
familiar with this, don’t worry. There was no tragic ending.)

Fortunately, the woman wasn’t “seriously” hurt, although she
evidently received some pretty severe scratches to her arm. And the jaguar was
not found to be at fault, since the woman should not have crossed the barrier
to begin with.

Lots of other people have not been so lucky.

Would you risk your life for a selfie?

According to this CNN article, between 2011 and 2017, 259 people died attempting selfies. (While this number does seem awfully high, the actual figure is almost certainly higher than that.) Most of the victims were younger than 30. And about 72% were male.

Some of the common causes of death were drowning, transportation-related
accidents, and falling from somewhere high up.

When people put themselves in harm’s way just for a selfie,
it seems like a pretty big indicator that they’re placing way too much importance
on having and sharing evidence that their lives are exciting. And, with every
social media “like,” the justification for their dangerous behavior is

But we’re pretty sure you’re not like that.

A much more likely scenario

You are way more likely to have your photo session
interrupted by something annoying than by something life-threatening.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that you are in the process of
taking a selfie (a non-dangerous one, of course), and your phone rings.

You don’t recognize the phone number. So you reject the call.

You pick up your phone again to attempt another pose. It
starts ringing a few seconds later.

Annoyed, you look at the screen again: same number.

When this happens a third time, you wonder: Is this
something important? They’ve called three times in a row!

Just in case you didn’t know, the Intelius app can provide caller ID information in real time. So, instead of wondering, and maybe looking up the number later, you can make a quick assessment as to whether or not you should be picking up that call.

Then you can get back to whatever you were doing – whether
it actually was taking (safe) selfies or something else.

Intelius does not provide consumer reports and is not a consumer reporting agency as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This site should not be used to determine an individual’s eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, housing or any other purpose covered by the FCRA.

EEOC Sues Capital City Dental Care for Age Discrimination

Dental Practice Fired Dental Hygienists Because of Age, Federal Agency Charges

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Capital City Dental Care, a dental practice headquartered in Harrisburg, Pa., violated federal law when it fired a group of dental hygienists because of their age, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged
in a lawsuit announced today.

According to the suit, in August 2015, a new owner purchased the dental practice. From September 2015 through November 2015, Capital City Dental Care fired eight out of nine dental hygienists older than 40 at its Camp Hill, Pa. location. Capital
City Dental Care did not give the dental hygienists, each of whom had years of experience and was qualified for the position, any prior notice or reason for the termination. From August 2015 through February 2018, Capital City Dental Care them
replaced them with 14 employees, 13 of whom were under age 40.

Such alleged conduct violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), which prohibits discrimination against people who are age 40 or older.

The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Michael A. Sisk, DDS, LLC, d/b/a/ Capital City Dental Care, Civil Action No. 1:19-cv-00804-UN1) in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, after first attempting to reach a voluntary,
pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

EEOC Regional Attorney Debra M. Lawrence said, “It’s not only unfair to fire qualified employees based on their age, it’s against the law.”

EEOC Philadelphia District Director Jamie R. Williamson said, “Older workers play a vital role in the workplace and our economy. The EEOC is committed to protecting employers from age discrimination.”

The EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office has jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. Attorneys in the EEOC Philadelphia District Office also prosecute discrimination cases in Washington,
D.C. and parts of Virginia.

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.

Why Do We Love Urban Legends?

The campfire crackles as the darkness deepens. You all move
just a little closer to the flames as another one of your friends begins talking.

“Okay, here’s another
one: There was this teenage couple that got stranded in their car at night. The
guy said he was going to go get gas and told the girl to wait in the car until
he came back. After a while, the girl started hearing this weird scraping on
the roof of the car. But she was told to stay in the car, and it was probably
just branches in the breeze, so she didn’t worry about it.

More time passed, and
she started to get worried. He should have been back a while ago. Then she saw
police lights, and two officers came and knocked on her window. She was told to
go with them and, no matter what, to not look back at the car. But, of course,
she did. Her boyfriend’s body was hanging from a tree. The sound she’d heard
had been his fingernails scraping against the car roof!”

There are giggles and a couple of gasps. The rest just shiver
slightly and pull blankets closer.

“Ooh, I’ve got one!”
says another friend…


Telling scary stories around a campfire, or at a slumber
party, is a common ritual for kids. And this is often when people are introduced
to urban legends. That story you just read is a prime example.

What makes a tale an urban legend?

First off, the story often involves danger or death (although
some are on the humorous side). Primarily meant to startle and shock, an urban
legend is captivating, which ensures that it will continue to live on in
storytelling lore.

Some other common characteristics:

  • Plot often involves something that happened to a
    “friend of a friend” (thus making it easier for the listener to believe that it
    might be true).
  • There is often a cautionary message or moral
    (e.g. don’t pick up hitchhikers).
  • The tale often ends with a surprise plot twist.
  • There are not a lot of details. This makes the
    story easy to remember and retell (and explains why most urban legends have multiple

Are any of these stories true?

While you might think that all urban legends are pure
fiction, that’s not necessarily true. A story can sometimes have a small
element of truth behind it.

For instance, there have long been tales of giant alligators roaming the sewers in New York City. The story goes that people bring babies home as pets and end up flushing them before they get too large. The ‘gators then end up in the sewer system, where there are now generations of them.

While the New York sewer system is too harsh of an environment for the reptiles to actually be able to survive, there is a true story behind this urban legend: In 1935, an alligator was found at the bottom of a manhole (although the theory was that it had probably come from a ship and made its way up the Harlem River to where it was discovered).

Heard any of these before?

Here are a few more urban legends you may be familiar with:

  • A businessman has a drink in a bar with a
    beautiful woman. He later wakes up in an ice-filled bathtub, missing a kidney.
  • Mikey, from the 1970s Life cereal commercials,
    died a tragic early death by drinking Coke and eating Pop Rocks.
  • There are gang members who sometimes drive at
    night with no headlights. The first person to flash a warning with their own
    headlights will get shot (as part of an initiation).

As you may notice, each of these does have some sort of
cautionary message:

  • Keep an eye on your drinks, and be careful of
    the company you keep.
  • Don’t drink Coke while you’re eating Pop Rocks!
  • Don’t flash your headlights at cars with no
    lights on.

Also, each story has a very simple plot – easy to remember
and retell (and to add embellishments, if you wish).

Why do we keep retelling the same urban
legends over and over?

For thousands of years, humans have shared stories. Some of
these were for imparting information (and increasing the chances of survival).
Others were told purely for entertainment.

Today, we remain very much a storytelling species. We
continue to share our stories through movies, novels, television shows,
documentary journalism, standup comedy routines, poems, and much more.

There’s still a strong tradition of oral storytelling as well. You can attend the National Storytelling Festival to witness this for yourself.

And an urban legend, as we’ve already established, is easy
to remember, has a compelling plot, often provides a little thrill with a scary
twist at the end, and is nearly guaranteed to entertain (which is why they’re
so popular at slumber parties and evenings around the campfire).

And, somehow, even in its seventh retelling, you will
probably be just as entertained by the “vanishing hitchhiker” story as the
first time you heard it. This is often due to the fact that each storyteller
will add their own details that make the tale slightly different each time.

While they used to be shared primarily through word-of-mouth, the internet has provided a new method for allowing urban legends to continue to spread. You can even visit Snopes to find out if an urban legend is true or not (although that might take some of the fun out of it).

Stories aren’t the only things that
spread through retelling

It’s surprisingly easy for rumors to spread like wildfire. And
the more they are retold, the more they can change. So, even if there was
originally a grain of truth to a rumor, it can quickly get distorted out of

Most of the time, you don’t have to concern yourself with rumors. But, sometimes, you just need to assess the validity of information about someone.

This could be something simple like verifying an address, or it might be something more sensitive, like determining if they have a criminal history. The next time you find yourself in need of some clarification, give Intelius a try. You can run a people search or, to go more in-depth, you can conduct a confidential background check.

Intelius does not provide consumer reports and is not a consumer reporting agency as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This site should not be used to determine an individual’s eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, housing or any other purpose covered by the FCRA.

The 5 Most Popular Robocall Scams

Author: PeopleFinders on May 31st, 2019

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For many people, robocalls are an annoyance, one that’s getting more and more common every year. However, for the unlucky people who are duped by robocall scammers, it can actually lead to a loss of money or breach of privacy.

No matter who you are, a scam can fool you, even if you think you’re tech-savvy or highly vigilant. To reduce your chances of being scammed by a robocall, learn about the most popular robocall scams and how you can catch them.

1. Immigration

A rash of recent scams has targeted immigrants to the United States, and they’ve been very successful. These scams may claim that an immigrant must pay to keep his or her immigration status, or they will have to file additional paperwork; and payment for it has to be taken immediately over the phone.

This is an easy scam to avoid: ICE won’t call with any issues related to deportation without first sending many letters attempting to reach you.

2. IRS Payments

IRS scams have been around for quite some time. This is often because people find taxes confusing and are easily duped into believing they need to pay more money. It’s common for an IRS scammer to start the call with a fake badge number to sound more convincing. And the scammer may have stolen information, such as your address and full name, to seem official.

Like ICE, the IRS won’t use a phone call as the first contact, and it doesn’t demand payment over the phone.

3. Social Security

Social Security scams prey largely upon the elderly, disabled and other dependent people. As such, they tend to be more effective than other scams that target the public at large. Although this kind of scam can certainly try to dupe you out of money by insisting that you need to repay excess benefits or pay for paperwork to be filed, it’s usually trying to get your personal information.

Just know that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will attempt to contact you in other ways before calling you. If you have any suspicions, hang up and call the phone number on the SSA website. That way, you’ll be sure you’re talking to an official employee.

4. Sweepstakes and Travel

Have you ever picked up an unknown number and heard, “Congratulations! You’ve been specially chosen!” If so, you’ve been targeted for a sweepstakes scam.

If you didn’t sign up for anything, how did you win? Even if you’ve entered legitimate sweepstakes, a phone call informing you that you’ve won is highly unlikely. If you’ve actually won something, you’ll be sent official paperwork to fill out.

5. Loans and Credit Cards

Credit cards are a big financial stressor for many people; around 40% of Americans carry credit card debt, and those people cumulatively owe nearly $829 billion. Thus, it’s common for people to look for lower interest rates on their debt, whether it’s for credit cards, mortgages, college loans, or car loans.

However, you should always be the one applying for lower interest rates. If someone calls asking for your information and offering low-interest loans, hang up and do some research on that phone number.

Stop Robocalls with a Reverse Phone Lookup

At any time, you could become the next target in the ever-increasing tidal wave of robocall scams. With unwanted calls on the rise, scams are more common than ever. How do you determine whether a call is important or a scam? PeopleFinders can help.

With PeopleFinders, you can perform a reverse phone lookup on any phone number that calls. This may help you find out if it’s registered to a genuine person, or if it’s an unregistered number used by scammers.

How Do I Know What Numbers to Trust?

Robocalls probably aren’t going away anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean you have to become a victim. Perform a reverse phone lookup on all unknown numbers to try and verify the source. Again, if something seems off, simply hang up. As long as you’re careful, you can avoid becoming a victim of a scam.

For more ideas on how to stay safe from scams, you can check the PeopleFinders blog.

Image attribution: phonlamaiphoto – stock.adobe.com

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Let Your Recruiters Learn

​Talent acquisition experts and practitioners agree that investing in learning—even when it’s difficult to do so—is one of the key ways to maintain a competitive advantage.

There are many reasons that professional development is neglected or not effective, including a lack of time and organizational support, and even user resistance. But when you invest in your recruiters, their performance will improve, said Johnny Campbell, the CEO of Dublin-based SocialTalent, a leading talent acquisition learning platform.

“There used to be a fork in the road where leaders thought they had to decide to either make an investment in technology or people,” he said. “I think there’s been a realization that performance will come up short if you just invest in technology without also enabling the people. Teaching people how to use and adopt new technology is critical to success.”

Campbell said that recruiter training was almost nonexistent a decade ago and is still a priority for only a minority of employers. However, he said, interest is growing. “People used to ask us, ‘What if we make this investment and our recruiters move on to a competitor?’ My reply was ‘If you don’t invest and they stay, isn’t that worse?’ “

Cost, investment of time and flexibility are some of the things you should consider when deciding what learning opportunities you want to offer your recruiters, said Treena Diebolt, senior director of talent attraction for global job search engine Indeed.

Learning and development (L&D) should be fun, engaging and relevant to the day-to-day job, she said. Allowing people to fail is also important.

“We let employees learn by stretching into new things, and we’re tolerant of failure,” Diebolt said. “Not all training investments will yield the result you plan for, and that’s OK,” she added. “We’ve made that feel safe for our team by encouraging experimentation.”  

Support from the top for L&D is the most important element necessary for a professional development program to be worthwhile, Campbell said. “Learning that isn’t driven from the top down almost never succeeds,” he said. “In any cohort, 20 percent will be avid learners, and 20 percent will disengage, but the 60 percent in the middle need to understand that the top level of the organization considers training a priority.”

And not just a top 10 priority, but in the top bracket of the top 10. “If you place L&D as priority No. 7, don’t even try it,” Campbell said. “It won’t be a focused effort and won’t get done effectively. Wait until you can make it a top-four priority.”

“If we’re not intentional or purposeful about making the effort, time slips away,” agreed Brett Bunce, director of field human resources and talent acquisition for restaurant chain Cracker Barrel.

Nneka Ladday, director of talent acquisition for Pilot Thomas Logistics, an energy company in Fort Worth, Texas, said she advocates for her recruiters and doesn’t give up when leaders turn down a training request. “With no specific budget for training allocated for the recruiting department, I had to partner with my VP of human resources to determine how I could provide some level of exposure for learning and succession,” she said.

One way to get business leaders on board is to give them examples of how professional development has improved outcomes, such as the hiring of more quality candidates. She also makes sure her team members invest in learning themselves before any training investments are made by the company. “There were times that I funded professional development myself because I truly believed that it’s important to invest in your team,” Ladday said.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Using Government and Other Resources for Employment and Training Programs]

Overcoming Roadblocks

The size of organizations, cost and time are common obstacles to L&D. Carving out the time for professional development may be the biggest roadblock. “In many organizations, the talent acquisition function … is already a balance between all the work that must go into sourcing, interviewing candidates, negotiating and consulting with business partners, and keeping the pipeline full,” Bunce said. “It can be difficult to pull time away to focus on development. It’s got to be managed in a way that people can still do their day jobs.”

It’s a common misconception that professional development can be accomplished through a course or seminar, Bunce continued. “Things that contribute to a great learning experience include a range of content and approaches. So much of what we do in terms of growing our capabilities is through stretch assignments on the job. But there’s also e-learning, video and gamification. E-learning can be done from any location from any point in time, and it’s self-paced, so you can manage it into your workload. It’s a strong option for us.”

Bunce and members of his team have gone through the coursework of Indeed Academy, Indeed’s free, online learning site, launched in October 2017. Indeed Academy helps recruiters get the most out of Indeed’s tools but also helps them master sourcing, interviewing and recruiting fundamentals, Bunce said.

Training doesn’t even have to be structured, Ladday said. Her team holds informal gatherings called “training days” to discuss what team members have learned and brainstorm ways to help them in their jobs.

“I solicited my team’s feedback on all of the areas that they wished they had more exposure and training in and created a monthly calendar,” she said. Now her recruiters participate in a contest that encourages research and creative thinking, and Ladday invites vendors to speak with them so they can better understand the products they’re using.

Another L&D obstacle is when recruiters resist training, Campbell said. “That usually happens when employees feel that the training is not applicable to them.”

One way around that is to ask some recruiters to help select, design and launch the training, Campbell said.

“Talent acquisition has become more complex, and different people practicing within the function have different expertise needs,” he said. “You can’t just bring in a trainer for the whole team or have everyone take the same course. Everyone on the team is at a different stage of professional development.”

Changing Needs

Campbell said that a few years back, most of the interest in recruiter training was in technical, top-of-funnel areas, such as sourcing and using social media and other channels to recruit. Now the most popular content is around negotiation.

“I think we are moving away from learning technical skills like how to source, to human skills like how to close a candidate, influence hiring managers and be a talent advisor,” he said. “It makes sense. Technology is now doing a lot of the technical things like sourcing, and professional development can be better used to teach people things that machines can’t do well.”

Bunce said the recruiters at Cracker Barrel are most interested in learning how to improve talent evaluation when advising hiring managers in selecting candidates. “We also want to focus on driving a better candidate experience, to strengthen our brand,” he said.

Do You Recognize These TV/Movie Homes?

There are tons of well-known properties all over the
country, and it can be fun to do research to learn more about them. We looked
up some famous movie and television homes you’ll most likely recognize. Have
you ever seen any of them in person?

House from Home Alone
671 Lincoln Ave, Winnetka, IL | Photo credit: Gannett File Photo/Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Home Alone house

This classic Georgian home played a huge role in the movie
that made it famous. Can you imagine a more perfect house for Wet Bandit booby
traps? Not to mention the fact that it was a pretty plush hideaway for a little
boy enjoying the novelty of being on his own. We wonder how many people still
check the doorknob before entering…

Brady Bunch house
11222 Dilling St, North Hollywood, CA | Photo credit: Douglas Elliman

Brady Bunch house

One of the most famous homes in television history, the Brady Bunch house went on the market last year. The owners (since 1973, when the show was still on the air!) ended up accepting an offer from HGTV. The network is in the process of renovating the interior of the house to look just like the Brady home (the series actually filmed interior shots at a studio). We can’t wait to see it.

Sleepless in Seattle floating home
Seattle, WA | Photo credit: Brian Teutsch/Wikimedia Commons

Sleepless in Seattle houseboat

This famous floating home is tricky to spot if you’re on
land. Seattle’s houseboat communities value their privacy and often have fences
or signs in place. If you’re determined to see it in person, we recommend
signing up for a lake tour (or becoming friends with someone who owns a boat).

Field of Dreams house
28995 Lansing Rd, Dyersville, IA | Photo credit: Tim Wesley/Beaver County Times

Field of Dreams house

Although the adjacent baseball field was created for the
movie, the house and farm where Ray Kinsella and his family live have actually
been around for over 100 years. Visitors can really play baseball here, too.
The location is remote, but that somehow makes the whole experience of making a
journey out here seem that much more special.

Walshes' house from Beverly Hills 90210
1675 E Altadena Dr, Altadena, CA | Photo credit: Lindsay Blake

The Walshes’ house from Beverly Hills 90210

If you were (or are) a 90210 fan, you’re probably very familiar with Brandon and Brenda’s house, where a lot of the drama takes place. When filming for the show, this location’s exterior was used extensively (back yard included). While most of the interior scenes were shot on a studio set, that set had been built to look a lot like the actual house. One interesting change: The stairway in the entry was reconstructed as a mirror image of the real one.

Arnolds' house from The Wonder Years
516 University Ave, Burbank, CA | Photo credit: Map Data: Google

The Wonder Years house

If you watched this show, you probably wondered from time to time, “Where is this supposed to take place?” The intention was to have the series be something that pretty much every viewer could relate to, no matter which suburban neighborhood they had grown up in. Location scouts found their ideal setting in a quiet street in Burbank. And Kevin Arnold’s house looks basically the same to this day.

Christmas Story house
3159 W 11th St, Cleveland, OH | AP Photo/Mark Duncan

A Christmas Story house

This house, which served as the exterior for Ralphie’s home, was purchased by Brian Jones (a huge fan of the film) in 2004 after his wife shared the eBay listing for the property. He spent the next two years completely recreating the interior of the house so that it would look exactly as it does in the movie. Visitors to the location have pretty much unlimited access to the recreated home. They can even crawl into the kitchen cabinet.

You can use Intelius to look up pretty much any property in the country. Just visit the reverse address lookup page, and enter an address into the search fields.

It might not have celebrity connections, but you may uncover some interesting information.

Intelius does not provide consumer reports and is not a consumer reporting agency as defined by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This site should not be used to determine an individual’s eligibility for credit, insurance, employment, housing or any other purpose covered by the FCRA.

Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications to Pay $99,500 to Settle EEOC Disability Lawsuit

Telecommunications Company Fired Employee While Out on Leave for Cancer Surgery, Federal Agency Charged

LOS ANGELES – Time Warner Cable, Inc. and Charter Communications, Inc. agreed to pay $99,500 and provide other relief to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency
announced today.  The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has approved the consent decree filed by the EEOC.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, an employee requiring a leave of absence for surgery to remove a cancerous nodule from her thyroid was fired while she was recovering from surgery, 10 days after the surgery and three weeks before she was set to
return to work. The EEOC charged that Time Warner failed to provide the employee a reasonable accommodation of leave for her disability and instead unlawfully terminated her despite knowing she had undergone potentially life-saving surgery to remove
the cancerous nodule and was recovering.

Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), as amended, which makes it unlawful for an employer to fire or otherwise discriminate against an employee due to a disability. 

The EEOC filed suit at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California (EEOC v. Time Warner Cable, Inc., et al., Case No.: 5:17-cv-01355-JGB-KK), after first attempting to reach a voluntary, pre-litigation settlement
through its conciliation process.

In addition to monetary relief, the three-year consent decree, which remains under the court’s jurisdiction during the term of the decree, includes injunctive relief intended to prevent further workplace discrimination. Charter Communications
will review and revise its written policies to achieve compliance with the ADA, provide regular training to all employees regarding the ADA, maintain a log detailing accommodation requests and complaints and conduct regular audits, and oversee
recordkeeping and reporting requirements through a designated equal employment opportunity monitor. The EEOC will monitor compliance with the terms of this agreement.

“Employers should recognize that leaves of absence may qualify as reasonable accommodations under the ADA,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office. “When assessing accommodation requests, employers need to
ensure they are engaging in an effective interactive process.”

Rosa Viramontes, district director for the EEOC’s Los Angeles District Office said, “Employers should be cognizant of their responsibilities under federal law regarding reasonable accommodations and put in place measures to prevent disability
discrimination in the workplace.”

Addressing emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues involving the ADA is one of the six national priorities identified by the Commission’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.

Hyatt to Provide $100,000 in Pay and Benefits to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit

Hotel Denied Accommodations, Including the Use of a Chair, to a Front Desk Agent with a Chronic Back Impairment, Federal Agency Charged

NEW YORK -Hyatt Corporation, which operates the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York City, will pay $85,000, provide paid leave worth approximately $15,000, and furnish other relief to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Hyatt violated federal civil rights law by refusing to accommodate an employee with a back impairment. Prolonged standing as a front desk agent aggravated the employee’s impairment and caused him severe pain. The
employee requested a reasonable accommodation, namely that the hotel permit him to sit on a chair while working at the front desk. The hotel initially granted that request, then after two weeks the hotel reversed course, refusing to let the employee
use the chair and otherwise failing to accommodate his disability.  According to the EEOC’s suit, being seated did not interfere with the employee’s performance of his job duties of registering guests, processing payments, and responding to
guest inquiries. 

This denial of accommodations violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the EEOC charged. Absent an undue burden to the company, the ADA requires that employers provide reasonable accommodations to a qualified individual with a
disability to enable him to perform the essential functions of his job.  This includes accommodations needed to allow an employee to work without severe pain.  The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Grand Hyatt New York, Inc., Civil Action No.
1:18-CV-07374) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York after first attempting a pre-litigation settlement through the EEOC’s conciliation process.

“Federal law on disability accommodations is very clear – employers must provide a reasonable accommodation so long as it does not cause an undue burden,” said Kevin Berry, the EEOC’s New York District director. “Something as simple as providing
a chair for an employee working at a desk is rarely burdensome.”

Under the consent decree resolving the lawsuit, Grand Hyatt will pay $85,000 and provide six weeks of paid leave to the aggrieved employee, and also will provide him a chair so he can perform his duties seated. The consent decree further requires
Grand Hyatt to provide training to its employees about their rights and responsibilities under the ADA. Additionally, the company will report the outcome of future requests for accommodations and complaints of disability discrimination to the

Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office, added, “The EEOC remains committed to protecting the rights of people with disabilities, through litigation when necessary, so that employees with disabilities can work
effectively and with dignity.”

EEOC trial attorney Sebastian Riccardi said, “We are pleased to finally get relief for this employee and institute necessary changes at the Grand Hyatt. This lawsuit could easily have been avoided if Grand Hyatt New York had done the right thing

The EEOC’s New York District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, admin­istrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, northern New Jersey, Rhode
Island, and Vermont. The New York District Office located in Manhattan conducted the investigation resulting in this lawsuit.

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.

Time to Pass Tax Relief for Student Loan Repayment Benefits, SHRM Says

When employers help employees repay their student loans, this money is treated as taxable income. But when employers reimburse employees as part of a tuition assistance program, those dollars are not taxed under Section 127 of the federal tax code. The unequal tax treatment for pre- and post-employment education expenses has long rankled employers and workers with student debt.

In February, members of Congress reintroduced legislation that would let employers give tax-free student loan assistance up to $5,250 a year per employee. That’s the same amount that Section 127 of the tax code now treats as tax-exempt for employer-provided tuition assistance.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) supports the Employer Participation in Repayment Act (H.R. 1043), which is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 142 House members. A companion bill (S. 460) is before the Senate with 27 bipartisan co-sponsors. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., has released a one-page summary of the legislation.

“While more employers could offer student loan debt repayment as a benefit, an obstacle is that the payments are considered taxable income for the recipients, and employers can’t claim a deduction for these payments,” explained Chatrane Birbal, SHRM’s director of policy engagement.

There was a substantial uptick in co-sponsors of these bills following SHRM’s Employment Law & Legislative Conference Advocacy Day on March 20, when SHRM members visited Capitol Hill and asked lawmakers to support tax equality for student loan benefits.

“Expanding employer education assistance helps address the skills gap, which is holding back both workers and employers,” said SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP. “When employers are able to help workers pay off student debt, more people will have confidence to pursue higher education and be better prepared to fill high-skilled fields.”

Eight percent of organizations offer taxable contributions to help employees repay student loans, up from 4 percent from 2016 through 2018, according to SHRM’s 2019 Employee Benefits survey results, derived from responses from more than 3,500 HR professionals. By comparison, more than half of organizations surveyed (56 percent) provide tax-exempt undergraduate or graduate education assistance. The survey findings will be officially released in June.

2019 Student load graph.png

Raising Section 127 Limit

SHRM also supports increasing to $11,500 per calendar year the annual dollar limit on tuition and related expenses that employers can reimburse tax-free and indexing this cap to the inflation rate going forward.

“SHRM supports efforts to increase the monetary limits and scope of Section 127 to include student loan repayment,” Birbal said. “Providing employers with the flexibility to offer support throughout a variety of stages in the education life cycle gives employees choices when making education-related decisions. Additionally, providing tax-free education assistance is an important tool for furthering higher education, allowing employers to attract the best employees and building an educated workforce to continue to position the U.S. to compete globally.”

SHRM chairs the Coalition to Preserve Employer Provided Education Assistance, which brings together a broad cross section of nearly 100 organizations representing employers, labor and higher education. The coalition is committed to expanding Section 127 to include student loan repayment and raising the annual limit on employers’ tax-free contributions.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Designing and Managing Educational Assistance Programs]

Watching State Actions

Absent federal action to harmonize the tax treatment of employer-provided student loan repayment benefits and existing education-assistance benefits, states are pursuing their own proposals to address the issue, Birbal noted. HR benefit managers should understand and inform employees of any tax relief available for loan repayment and tuition costs at the state level.

At least 36 states allow residents to claim a state income-tax deduction or offer a state tax credit for interest paid on student loans. So far in 2019, at least 24 states have introduced bills to create or expand existing state tax deductions or tax credits for student tuition costs or student loan debt repayment, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Related Resources:

Transforming the Workforce in 2019, SHRM Government Affairs, May 2019

Podcast: Student Loan Repayment Programs & Other Education Benefits, with Crystal Frey, SHRM-SCP, May 2019

Related SHRM Articles:

Billionaires Paying Off Student Loans Isn’t a Solution to Debt Problem, SHRM Online, May 2019

In a Tight Talent Market, an Employer’s Help with Education Expenses Can Turn a Candidate’s Head, SHRM Online, May 2019