At G&A Partners, we realize that the spirit of any business is with its employees and every company has the responsibility of taking care of their employees in accordance with federal regulations. It sounds cut and dry, but with the rising popularity of the internet, a better understanding of disabilities and a thriving military presence in the workplace, regulations must be updated to protect and care for everyone involved.
Some, such as the FMLA, have been revised, while the ADA is currently being redrafted as the ADAAA. Regardless, there will be a large influx of changes on how disabilities, employee leave, agency enforcement and social media issues will affect many of America’s workforce. Companies and HR departments must be ready to get familiar with and implement all changes to better care for each and every employee.
We’ve put together a recap of the webinar presented by G&A Partners with Mark Jodon and Alexis Knapp of Littler regarding the current employment issues.
• The ADA Amendment Act of 2009, or the ADAAA, is broadening the understanding of who exactly is disabled. The new standards will be fairer to those with ailments that don’t always make themselves present, such as cancer in remission and diabetes.
• Both anti-discrimination motives, as well as affirmative motives, to ensure that each situation is handled and handled properly, will be implemented ensuring the rights of each employee.
• This means that many, many more employees will be considered disabled and eligible for coverage under various government programs.
• Creative and Reasonable accommodations will need to be made for those who qualify as disabled or otherwise eligible for leave, which will now include military leave from work.
• The EEOC policies regarding neutral absence policies will be modified such that termination or solely light duty positions after an absence of predetermined, limited or arranged time frames will not be tolerated.
• One Size Fits All Policies will not be effective with so many changes and wide varieties of employment situations.
• The EEOC is dealing with and will continue to deal with an increase in retaliation charges and has hired scores of new agents to “crack down” on companies and businesses who do not comply with labor and employment regulations: especially ones dealing with sex, race, age and other forms of discrimination.
• Age discrimination suits are on the rise and the EEOC is serious about setting examples through strongly correcting wrongful situation where this occurs.
• The GINA act now prohibits the use of genetic information by an employer for anything.
• Companies are facing new situation in which they may or may not be liable for ill made remarks and other unprofessional gestures made by employees on social media sites.
• How will companies go about redefining what is and is not protected concerted activity?
• Over 60% of employees admit to accessing social media sites such as facebook while at work.
• Many companies are comparing slanderous and otherwise unprincipled remarks by employees on social media sites to current and past sexual harassment policies. Once a new term for the workplace, sexual harassment policies have been defined, redefined and fine tuned over the years to conform to the changing society – a path policies on social media and the workplace may need to go down as well.
• Companies should/MUST review protected content and employee conduct policies to make absolutely sure that it is inclusive enough to protect the company from anything done by an employee in such situations that could slander the company or that may be immoral or illegal on public internet and social media platforms.
• What is the company vs. the employee responsible for or subject to reprimand for?
• 36% of all claims in 2010 were retaliation claims.
• With more and more situations broadening the scope of what can be considered or what is acceptable as a complaint, more complaints are being made.
• Supervisors must be trained appropriately so that there are no grounds for complaints against age, race, and wrongful termination of an employee.
• Supervisors also must be aware that he or she cannot, if an employee files a complaint, unjustly terminate that employee’s family member as a scare tactic. Such instances have been previously documented and corrected, but unfortunately still exist.
• “Scare tactics” such as the instance listed above are also used to take advantage of undocumented workers who have no other choice but to comply. The EEOC will also be looking into situations like these to make sure the fair and just treatment of ALL employees is being practiced in all business situations.